Tesco petrol stations use face-scan tech to target ads

Face scanning screens at checkout Face-scan screens at Tesco petrol stations will target ads at drivers

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Tesco is installing face-scanning technology at its petrol stations to target advertisements to individual customers at the till.

The technology, made by Lord Sugar's digital signage company Amscreen, will use a camera to identify a customer's gender and approximate age.

It will then show an advertisement tailored to that demographic.

Tesco says the screens will be rolled out across all 450 of its forecourts in the UK.

"It's like something out of Minority Report," said Amscreen's chief executive Simon Sugar, Lord Sugar's eldest son.

"But this could change the face of British retail, and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible."

A Tesco spokeswoman said: "This is not new technology."

"No data or images are collected or stored and the system does not use eyeball scanners or facial-recognition technology", she added.

'Ethically deployed'

The length of someone's hair could be used to work out their gender, she said.

Privacy campaigners said companies had to tell their customers they were using the technology.

Nick Pickles, of Big Brother Watch, said: "If people were told that every time they walked into a supermarket, or a doctor's surgery or a law firm, that the CCTV camera in the corner is trying to find out who they are, I think that will have a huge impact on what buildings people go into."

Systems could only be "ethically deployed" if customers agreed to opt in to having their behaviour tracked, he added.

Philip James, joint head of technology at Pitmans law firm, argues that this technology is similar to the way social media sites tailor adverts to users based on the content of their profiles.

"The capture of facial signatures represents a potentially much greater infringement of customers' privacy in the absence of prior consent," he said.

The screens are expected to reach five million customers.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    What Tesco need is more full time staff to assist customers, sit at tills, get the trolleys in and restock shelves promptly.
    Oh, and less managers standing in groups discussing how well they are organising the place while standing in groups not organising the place.
    Customer service not staff reducing digital gimmicks is what the Customer wants.
    No point advertising it if it's not on the shelf.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    This is where technology is blurring the line between the reasonable and intrusive.

    I don't care what any company says - if you have to be so intrusive as to scan a persons face to advertise to them your products/services are not worth buying.

    But of course companies, especially in the UK, won't be happy until the average joe hands all their money over before it's even got into their wallet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I'm so glad I don't shop at Tesco; sadly, I expect other shops and petrol stations will shortly follow suit.

    How deeply depressing.


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