Picadilly Circus's New Screen Will Display Ads Based on the People and Cars Around It

By Tom Pritchard on at

George Orwell was very worried about governments abusing their power with mass surveillance, and right as he was to be concerned he never really considered the fact that private companies would be at it to. Not only do we get targeted ads following us around online, a brand new screen in London's Picadilly Circus is going to display adverts based on the people around it.

According to Wired the screen is 790 square metres, has 11 million pixels spaced 8 millimetres apart, and can produced a ridiculous 281 trillion colours. When it's switched on later this month it'll be the largest display of its type in Europe. That's cool, but it's not why we're here. We're here because Landsec, the company that owns the display, says it has recognition technology that's uses the people and things around it to serve more personalised ads to people.

Welcome to the future, where everything's for sale and your privacy doesn't matter.

According to Landsec the recognition tech can analyse car make, model, and colour, alongside age, gender, and feelings of nearby pedestrians. The ads displayed then change based on who walks by or what cars drive past. Other factors also change ads, including weather, news reports, and sports results. I can now predict there will be an immense tragedy one day, and this screen will take that to mean it's a good idea to offer something inappropriate like life insurance.

Speaking to The Verge Landsec promised that the display would not be storing any personal details, and how the information collected from the area is used will depend on the brands selling the adverts.

Currently the displays in place showcase six different ads at any given time, which is how the display will remain for the majority of the time. It will become one big advert for 30 seconds every ten minutes, however, with big brands like Samsung, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and L'Oreal.

Landsec won't confirm when the screen will be switching on because it, and I quote, "doesn’t want to cause overcrowding in the already busy traffic junction and tourist". Do people flock to an area to check out new advertising boards, is that a thing? Sounds like they're being a bit full of themselves there. [Wired via The Verge]


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