Technology 3 min read

Japanese Taxis Use Facial Recognition to Create Targeted Ads

In a strange turn of advertising optimization, Japanese taxis are using facial recognition to create targeted ads for individual passengers.

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Japanese Taxis have cameras in the back seat to guess your age and gender. That way, they can serve you with an advertisement that’s tailored for you.

Anyone that took a cab in Japan this year would notice a tablet in the backseat.

As you may have guessed, the tablet has a facial recognition system which scans your face to determine your gender, age, as well as other characteristics. Then, it uses the data to target you with relevant ads.

Although the facial recognition tablet has been in use since January, it only started gaining attention when Google’s, Rosa Golijan posted a photo on Saturday.

The privacy engineer’s post shows that Japanese Taxis use the tablet to “estimate gender in order to deliver the most optimized content.” 

Aside from the age-old issue of data privacy, the tablet also provides an intriguing insight into how personalized ads could one day become a norm.

How does the taxi collect and use the data, you wonder?

Using Premium Taxi Vision to Create Personalised Ads

Following Golijan’s tweet, another tweet shows the image of the tablet with a QR code. The code links to the website of the Trust & Safety page for the Premium Taxi Vision service.

Image Credit: Ben Parker

Earlier in the year, Japanese e-commerce platform developer, DeNA Co Ltd deployed the Premium Taxi Vision to make “riding a taxi more comfortable and convenient.”

It looks like part of that comfort and convenience involves saving its customers from the horror of watching an advertisement that’s meant for a different age group or gender.

According to the company’s website, DeNA uses the video of passengers to generate a sort of profile which includes age, presented gender, as well as the number of passengers. Then, it sends the profile to advertising agency Geniee Inc, which in turn sends a relevant advertisement.

That means Geniee doesn’t actually see the footage. In Golijan’s case, the tablet would have noted an adult woman, and the company would have acted based on the profile alone.

So, what happens to the footage?

DeNA claims that the tablet deletes the actual footage after each ride. Also, since the facial recognition software never actually leaves the tablet, users may not have to worry about privacy.

Read More: Elon Musk Plans to Launch Autonomous Robotaxis Next Year

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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