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June 20, 2007 8:26 AM   Subscribe

"Sense your customer's eyes from up to ten metres." Xuuk's eyebox is a long-range an eye-counting video camera. The device "simply shines a beam of IR light and counts how many times it sees redeye in the ensuing images, indicating that the subject was looking right at the camera". "We decided not to incorporate iris scanning," says inventor Roel Vertegaal. "We don't need to know the identity of the people looking at the ad. That's for other companies to do. And when that happens, we're happy to tag along, but we're not interested in moving in that direction if it's not necessary." Note: Some sites imply that Google is partnering with Xuuk, but that is a mistake. The device simply mimics Google's highly successful business model.
posted by chuckdarwin (54 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
if you shine something in my eyes without my permission as part of some corporate objective, you assume a risk that i will trash your unit and you too. the legal definition of battery is any intentional harmful or offensive contact. bouncing infrared radiation off my corneas would be highly offensive, triggering my legal right of self-defense.
posted by bruce at 8:51 AM on June 20, 2007


creepy
posted by caddis at 8:57 AM on June 20, 2007


bruce, I hereby challenge you to find a published and in any way authoritative U.S. case holding that shining an infrared light can constitute battery when the subject doesn't know it happened.
posted by The World Famous at 9:04 AM on June 20, 2007


'decided' not to include iris scanning? Please. They would need an extremely high resolution camera and a huge amount of processing power in order to do that.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 AM on June 20, 2007


bruce can smash all the signage he wants to, but at $1000 each, I fear that these eyeboxes are going to be everywhere in a couple of years. That'll take a lot of smashing.
posted by chuckdarwin at 9:08 AM on June 20, 2007


Fascinating-scary. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 9:11 AM on June 20, 2007


Wasn't there a weird, sci-fi, made-for-tv movie about this? But with robots. Or robots who were also models? I'm serious.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:12 AM on June 20, 2007


How about IR-opaque sunglasses?
posted by DU at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Night security cameras shine IR light too. So do tv remotes. So does the sun...
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 9:17 AM on June 20, 2007


Oh wait, IR is longer wavelength than light. Maybe that won't work.
posted by DU at 9:17 AM on June 20, 2007


But wait, greenhouses work by being opaque to IR....right? I'm all confused.
posted by DU at 9:20 AM on June 20, 2007


There was a story, I think it was a William Gibson but I could be misremembering, that introduced (in passing) the idea of a weapon that had been banned by most civilized governments; it lay in the dark watching the night for reflections, when it detected two that were the right distance apart, it fired a powerful infrared laser into them. The idea behind this was that it would permanently blind any soldiers who accidentally stumbled into it's range.

Something in my head said that was called Shiva's Burning Cinder.

For some reason, this is the connection I made first, rather than the obvious Minority Report one.
posted by quin at 9:24 AM on June 20, 2007


Fold, spindle, and mutilate shall now include chewing gum, spray paint, magic marker, and perhaps, bright infrared light sources.
posted by Goofyy at 9:25 AM on June 20, 2007


Greenhouses are opaque to longwave IR.
There are sunglasses that block nearly all IR.
Now fnord will know when you are looking at fnord.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:37 AM on June 20, 2007


IR Cut filters are part of every digital camera made, CMOS and CCD sensors are very IR receptive so you need to filter them out or things look different.
posted by Skorgu at 9:40 AM on June 20, 2007


There was a story, I think it was a William Gibson but I could be misremembering, that introduced (in passing) the idea of a weapon that had been banned by most civilized governments; it lay in the dark watching the night for reflections, when it detected two that were the right distance apart, it fired a powerful infrared laser into them. The idea behind this was that it would permanently blind any soldiers who accidentally stumbled into it's range.

It's from Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas, Electric trilogy.
posted by 235w103 at 9:43 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hopefully, hackers will figure out to cripple this by using EXIF injection techniques delivered by cross-retina scripting.
posted by mkultra at 9:44 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The latest craze in the ad industry has been clients wanting crazy detailed metrics on how many people see the ad, respond to the ad, etc. They want hard numbers. That's where devices like this come into play.

The advertisers may not want to pay $1k to see who views their billboard, but I could see an agency buying them to reuse on campaigns over and over so they can supply those lovely numbers.

I don't want them, I don't like them and I should think sales figures will reflect ad effectiveness. That being said, they'll need to be banned on the municipal level if you're to be sure you're eyes aren't being scanned every time to see a poster or billboard.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:48 AM on June 20, 2007


Finally, the market for peril-sensitive sunglasses develops.
posted by Malor at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Am I alone in thinking this is kind of cool? I bet technology like this has some sweet implications for experimental cognitive psychology.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2007


235w103 : It's from Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas, Electric trilogy.

Oh yeah! Thanks so much, it has been bugging me for ages. Not sure where I got the idea that it was Gibson, I'm guessing that I probably just read them around the same time.

Now I'm going to have to re-read it...

posted by quin at 10:08 AM on June 20, 2007


i don't think it's the technology people are objecting to, so much as this specific application- turning our eyes into a source of marketing statistics.

The technology itself IS pretty cool.... You could have lights and appliances in your house turn on when you look at them. Altho, that might get annoying....
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 10:12 AM on June 20, 2007


"Dickworld," pretty much sums up how I feel about this. Great Headline.

As a side note: I think the thing I find most troubling about this and the Google ad model in general is that it might gradually pull everybody into their own personal zeitgeist; a totally-subjective, preference-targeted reality. I'd really like my search requests, ads and media intake not to be tailored exactly to my expectations. I mean, I like post-structuralism and critical theory, but when it comes down to it, I kind of believe in an objective reality.

What if this technology was paired with LCD screen ads that changed over the course of the day? Got more sexually explicit after 10pm? Were replaced by restaurant ads just before lunch and dinner? I'm easily distracted as it is.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 10:13 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


*XUUK!* : The sound made by a laser zapping an eyeball.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:14 AM on June 20, 2007


Finally, the market for peril-sensitive sunglasses develops.

But wouldn't regular sunglasses do the trick?

Also, speaking as someone with large pupils that gets red-eye often, I find that I usually only get red-eye if I'm staring right at the camera lense. I don't get how they expect to find red-eye "hits" on a 40-foot-wide billboard with just one camera.

ALSO, what if I look away and look back ten times? That's not ten people that have seen the billboard, it's still just one.

To me this idea sounds really ineffective.
posted by Zephyrial at 10:16 AM on June 20, 2007


The genius of this invention is its low cost. It's going to be everywhere in twelve months.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 10:17 AM on June 20, 2007


Oh wait, IR is longer wavelength than light. Maybe that won't work.

Right, that's why you can't filter out red light without filtering out blue light, and why cameras don't have IR filters.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 AM on June 20, 2007


Time to get shirts with pairs of IR-reflective spots at all sorts of angles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:30 AM on June 20, 2007


Time to get shirts with pairs of IR-reflective spots at all sorts of angles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:30 AM on June 20


See, thats the way to go. Forget about sunglasses. Just jam the things with so much noise they're useless.
posted by vacapinta at 10:35 AM on June 20, 2007


what if I look away and look back ten times?

Just jam the things with so much noise they're useless.

Yeah, it seems to me that this technology is kind of self-defeating.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:48 AM on June 20, 2007


posted by delmoi Right, that's why you can't filter out red light without filtering out blue light, and why cameras don't have IR filters.

Wrong.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2007


Lyndsey Nagle: Do I detect a note of sarcasm?

Professor Frink: (With sarcasm detector) Are you kidding? This baby is off he charts mm-hai.
posted by kableh at 11:00 AM on June 20, 2007


Why is this such a huge concern? You don't want people to know you glanced at an ad as you walked by?
posted by !Jim at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2007


The cool thing about "crazy detailed metrics" is that it should improve marketing in general until people only are targeted with messages that pertain to them.

The bad part is that anyone in a position to acess these numbers is probably lying. It's a known fact that 83% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
posted by ba at 11:22 AM on June 20, 2007


Do the people here who are paranoid of this get paranoid about websites counting hits?
posted by The World Famous at 11:25 AM on June 20, 2007


Do the people here who are paranoid of this get paranoid about websites counting hits?

And if you think about it, that's probably worse, since some information such as IP address is probably stored, in order to determine whether the hit is unique or not.
posted by !Jim at 11:49 AM on June 20, 2007


The World Famous: "Do the people here who are paranoid of this get paranoid about websites counting hits?"

I'm not paranoid (and I don't think many other people are, either), it just seems like a stupid idea that's not going to work.
posted by Zephyrial at 11:49 AM on June 20, 2007


As someone who works in media measurement and has seen the kind of planning paralysis that can result from over-reliance on numbers (in lieu of actual decision making and risk).

What's fantastic about this is that it winds up creating a feedback loop where demand for even greater levels of detail leads further down the rabbit-hole into minutiae and irrelevance until (hopefully) someone gets fired.

For example, if this technology is introduced, the next question will be how to treat multiple "looks" (along the lines of what Zephyrial is suggesting) and talking about "uniques," "frequency" and "sessions" (of course this won't matter once we get the chips in people's brains).

I actually welcome this eventuality. If there's one thing the last three years in the industry have taught me, it's that advertising has very little actual effect; and what effect it does have is usually pernicious.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:50 AM on June 20, 2007


@the world famous:
i am not aware of any such cases because, obviously, if the subject didn't know about the radiation, he or she would never have discovered the grounds for self-defense/subsequent litigation.

just because one or more people didn't become aware of this radiation doesn't mean the grounds don't exist for people who do become aware of it (if only by seeing the unit pointed at them; i can draw legally actionable inferences from seeing a gun pointed at me without having to see bullets come out).

corporations, just ahead of religions, are the greatest threat to our liberty. ever more, the customer is being turned into a product, and when iris scanning merges with this technology, you and i will be the product when we walk through the mall. i am an authentic anti-corporate culture warrior, and it would give me pleasure and purpose to oppose this development with my utmost vigor, and whether you join me, oppose me or mock me from the sideline is utterly inconsequential to me.
posted by bruce at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2007


Oops, meant to add "...I can totally relate to that AdAge article" at the end of my first sentence.

Advertising is ruining my brain.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2007


Do the people here who are paranoid of this get paranoid about websites counting hits?
posted by The World Famous at 11:25 AM on June 20


Not anymore but I've always really been against IP tracking or cookies. I suppose I've gotten used to it even though its still mildly uncomfortable.

I think its fair to object to any inroads into privacy no matter how small. So to me your argument becomes "Hey! We've been slowly eroding your privacy over the years and there's been no huge riots! So, kindly, bend over one more time..."
posted by vacapinta at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2007


You don't want people to know you glanced at an ad as you walked by?

Actually, no I don't. It's just one of many small steps we're taking before some agency starts putting chips in heads. Paranoia? So what, they are out to get you or at least screw you.

There's already a way of measuring an ad's success: Did sales improve because the ad? If it didn't, you have a shitty ad and you need to change it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on June 20, 2007


posted by Brandon Blatcher It's just one of many small steps we're taking before some agency starts putting chips in heads.

Intel Inside.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:00 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


"i am an authentic anti-corporate culture warrior..."


Neat. I'm a lottery winner. In my mind.
posted by ba at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2007


bruce, perhaps you can find a case where someone recovered tort damages after being shot at with a TV remote.

corporations, just ahead of religions, are the greatest threat to our liberty.

How can corporations or religions take away our liberty? Our liberty is threatened by the government. Corporations and religions sometimes exert influence over the government, but the government is the one you should be afraid of.
posted by The World Famous at 12:04 PM on June 20, 2007


Any kind of retroreflector in IR worn on or about your head will defeat this utterly, and, considering they are detecting a reflection from your retina, which is a very small signal, the reflectors could be unobtrusively tiny.

Moreover, since they are selling information to advertisers about the attention the ads are getting, once even a low percentage of people are wearing retroreflectors, advertisers will develop fears of false positives which will make the technology hard to sell.

I wonder, in fact, if you could beat these with almost undetectably microscopic, retroreflecting, clinging beads which you would blow onto surfaces near the boxes, so that a very few offended individuals could easily sabotage a city-full of the things.
posted by jamjam at 12:44 PM on June 20, 2007


As if the intersection traffic cameras weren't enough. These have moved me just one bit closer to grabbing something from Wicked Lasers and burning the relevant CCDs to so much goo.
posted by adipocere at 2:59 PM on June 20, 2007


if you shine something in my eyes without my permission as part of some corporate objective

That's exactly what all public visual advertising is doing to everyone who looks in its direction, all the time.
posted by Soulfather at 3:03 PM on June 20, 2007


I'm waiting for the first one of these that's installed across from an automatic door with an infrared sensor, and they freak each other out 24 hours a day...
posted by pupdog at 3:49 PM on June 20, 2007


These have moved me just one bit closer to grabbing something from Wicked Lasers and burning the relevant CCDs to so much goo.

Oh frabjous day! I didn't know these people existed. Now I can *really* menace the Seaview...

Surely there's a way to combine one of those lasers with a fuck-you magnet from United Nuclear and either rule the world, or turn into a mutant atomic superman, or both.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2007


There's already a way of measuring an ad's success: Did sales improve because the ad? If it didn't, you have a shitty ad and you need to change it.

So the ad failed. Is it because no one saw it? Did you place it in stupid places? Or did people see it, but the ad itself just didn't work?


So what, they are out to get you or at least screw you.

Really? People trying to sell me cereal, cars, or movies are trying to get or screw me? See, because I thought they were trying to sell me cereal, cars, and movies. Where's the screwing?
posted by !Jim at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2007


xuuk
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:43 PM on June 20, 2007


Really? People trying to sell me cereal, cars, or movies are trying to get or screw me?

People trying to sell you cars are definitely trying to screw you.
posted by vacapinta at 4:48 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, the way to kill these things would be the same sort of attack as click fraud. It couldn't cost more than a couple of bucks to build circuit with a pair of IR LEDs on a 15-second-on, 15-second-off timer.

Viola! Instant broke billboard client.
posted by bonehead at 5:02 PM on June 20, 2007


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