Daily Archives: June 5, 2008

Israeli Surveillance Society Inspires Face-Scanning Billboards

mediabuyerplanner.com | Jun 1, 2008

Technology inspired by Israeli surveillance has led to camera-equipped billboards that can track viewers’ faces to gather reliable viewing data for digital displays and screens.

The technology comes from TruMedia, which is testing the cameras in about 30 locations nationwide. Adspace Networks is testing the TruMedia technology system at malls in Chesterfield, Mo., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Monroeville, Pa., according to The New York Times.

A company in Paris offers similar tracking. Software behind a billboard on Eighth Avenue near Columbus Circle in Manhattan, for example, can determine when a person is looking at the billboard, and what that person’s age, gender and – soon – race, is.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the ad played a trailer for the film The Andromeda Strain, a miniseries coming on A&E.

A two-year-old company in Paris, Quividi, is behind the Columbus Circle billboard. The goal is to tailor what is shown on the board depending on who is standing in front of it, the company says. One ad might be shown to a middle-aged African American man, while another is shown to a white female teenager.

The cameras use software that determines when a person is standing in front of a billboard, and which then analyzes facial features, such as the distance between the nose and the chin, to judge gender and age. Quividi and TruMedia Technologies both say they are not yet using race as a parameter, but they soon will. The billboards can also track how many people looked at the ad, and for how long, an important element for advertisers who are demanding more accountability from their agencies and media partners.

The Columbus Circle billboard and others in the U.S. were installed by London-based Motomedia.

According to TruMedia, its technology “provides a true count of impressions with an accuracy that surpasses any other direct or indirect measurement technology. [It] provides more than just viewer counts. Demographics segmentation and face-towards time measurement allow better media planning and targeted advertising.”

Not surprisingly, privacy groups are up in arms about the camera-equipped billboards. But the companies point out that everything they do is completely anonymous, and pictures of the people who look at the cameras are never stored in the system.


True Media

Face-scanning cameras to monitor underage drinkers

Hi-tech tool spots child drinkers

The supermarket chain Budgens has installed face recognition cameras in one of its stores to stop children buying alcohol and cigarettes.

BBC News | Jun 5, 2008

By Danny Shaw

It is thought to be the first time a UK retailer has used the technology to identify underage customers.

The scheme is being piloted at an unnamed branch of Budgens in London.

If the system recognises someone who has previously been unable to prove they are 18, a signal alerts the cashier who will refuse to serve them.

Facial recognition software makes a unique template of an individual’s features by taking measurements between key points on the face.

Red flagged

Three cameras have been installed at the pilot branch, one in each checkout lane.

The cameras monitor customers as they approach the tills, transmitting the pictures to a control centre in Worcester.
The customers’ facial features are automatically scanned against a database of images of young people who have visited the store before.

Anyone who has been refused alcohol or cigarettes on a previous occasion will be flagged up.

The system also identifies when a customer has previously verified that they are 18 or over, enabling the sale to proceed more quickly.

Young customers who are not recognised by the system will be asked by the cashier to provide proof of their age when buying drink or cigarettes.

Their details will then be added to the database.

Data protection

Charlie Willetts, managing director of Charton Ltd, which is supplying the software, said about 1,500 images were currently stored on computer, but it had the capacity for almost two million.

He said other supermarkets and convenience stores were interested in linking the scheme to their own shops to create a giant database of customers.

But Mr Willetts said the system had to overcome a number of technical issues first and ensure that it was compliant with data protection laws.
The storage of large amounts of data is also likely to fuel concerns about civil liberties.

Face recognition technology is increasingly used by police and other law enforcement agencies to match CCTV footage of suspects with images of known offenders.

It is also used by some companies to verify the identity of employees.

In the summer, trials will begin at airports to scan the facial details of some passport-holders.

Senate begins debate of $1.2 trillion “Carbon Tax”

Little Chicago Review | Jun 4, 2008

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate started the week debating climate change legislation and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., made the following comments about the bill and the impact it would have on the nation.

“This bill costs money. It will make gasoline more expensive. It will increase electric bills. It will take hard earned money out of the pockets of hard working Americans. Companies don’t pay the cost of higher energy – they pass it to the customer. Americans should think about what they want to pay for gas and electricity in 2013 when this bill would go into effect.

“How willing are people to pay the personal cost of climate change legislation? What we need is a bill that spurs innovation and recognizes what is possible with technology. What we need is a bill that recognizes that, if we want a clean environment, we cannot destroy our economy. I am in favor of using alternative sources of energy and reducing emissions but this bill is not the right approach to a cleaner environment.

“This bill needs to be improved and I look forward to voting on amendments that will reduce the exorbitant cost this bill would bring if passed as is,” said Enzi.

The Senate plans to debate the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill for the remainder of the week.

Blackwater buys Brazilian-made fighter plane


The 314-B1 Super Tucano propeller-driven fighter

USA Today | Jun 3, 2008

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — A subsidiary of U.S. military security contractor Blackwater Worldwide has purchased a fighter plane from the Brazilian aviation company Embraer, a Brazilian newspaper reported Sunday.

The 314-B1 Super Tucano propeller-driven fighter — the same used by the Brazilian military — was bought for $4.5 million and delivered to EP Aviation at the end of February, according to the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper.

The report included the plane’s registration number with the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency, and the FAA website confirmed it is registered by EP Aviation.

It was not clear if it was Embraer’s first sale of a military-style aircraft to a private company. EP Aviation has 33 planes and helicopters registered with the FAA, according to the agency’s website, only one of which is from Embraer.

Officials with Brazil’s government and Embraer declined to comment on the Estado report. Phone calls to Blackwater were not returned.

The sale was apparently approved, the Estado report noted, by Brazil’s president in a deal negotiated with the U.S. government.

Brazilian law prohibits the sale of arms to companies or for use in existing conflicts.

The newspaper reported that Blackwater president Gary Jackson said the plane would be used for training.

The plane sold to EP Aviation did not include the two .50-caliber machine guns normally attached to the wings.

Blackwater, the largest private security company in the world, has been under scrutiny as a U.S. federal grand jury investigates its involvement in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians. Blackwater also is under investigation for possible weapons smuggling allegations — violations the company denies.

Condoleezza Rice enlists in Kiss Army fan club

This photo provided by the State Department shows Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, center, posing the hard rocker group Kiss, Thursday, May 29, 2008, in Stockholm, Sweden. From left are, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley, Secretary Rice, Gene Simmons and Eric Singer
(AP Photo/State Department, Anne Lyons)

MSN | May 30, 2008

The Kiss Army fan club has an enthusiastic new recruit: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rice was in the Swedish capital Thursday for an international conference on Iraq. Kiss had a sold-out concert to play Friday.

“I was thrilled,” Rice said of her late-night encounter with Kiss frontman Gene Simmons and bandmates Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in the executive lounge of the Sheraton Hotel where they signed autographs and handed out backstage passes and T-shirts to her staff.

“It was really fun to meet Kiss and Gene Simmons,” she told reporters, noting that they seemed well-informed about current events. The band had asked if she could stop by after she finished dinner with the Swedish foreign minister and Rice readily agreed, she said.

Rice, a classically trained pianist, said she has eclectic musical tastes ranging from Beethoven to Bruce Springsteen.

Hard rockers such as Kiss are included in the mix, and Rice said her favorite Kiss tune is “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

But, Rice conceded, she has never seen the band in concert.

“Super Hero” Gordon Brown fights green-skinned aliens with British Intelligence

Gordon Brown, aided by “Captain Britain” complete with Union Jack spandex suit, is portrayed as an alien-fighting hero in a new Marvel comic.

“All British super heroes now work for MI13. Like it or not.”

Flash Gordon Brown, Space Warrior

Telegraph | Jun 3, 2008

In real life, he is struggling to keep control of his own party while Britain faces economic problems.

But in the Marvel comic book Captain Britain and MI13, he is helping protect the planet from an evil, green-skinned race known as The Skrulls.

The Prime Minister is seen discussing the invasion with super hero Captain Britain and operatives of MI13, a fictional British intelligence agency.

He tells them: “All British super heroes now work for MI13. Like it or not.”

He has been forced to take drastic action after discovering that a number of Cabinet members, including the home secretary, are really aliens in disguise.

The comic’s British writer, Paul Cornell, said: ” I’m quite a fan of Gordon Brown and specified that the character had to look like him.

“I feel quite sorry for him, so I’m pleased we’ve given him a PR boost.”

Chinese Regime Starts Violent Clampdown on Protesting Parents


Parents of pupils killed when the Xinjian primary school collapsed in the May 12 earthquake cry as they hold portraits of their loved ones during a commemoration of Children’s Day on the rubble-strewn school campus on June 1, 2008 in Dujiangyan, Sichuan province, China. Hundreds of parents and relatives of killed pupils wore T-shirts with the slogan ‘Severely Punish Corrupt and Shoddy Construction’ during the tearful gathering. (Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

Epoch Times | Jun 3, 2008

By Samuel Spencer

After initially promising a full investigation into the widespread collapse of school buildings in the Sichuan earthquake and to bring those responsible to justice, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) changed course on Tuesday, breaking up protests by parents of dead children, and arresting some.

Over 100 police were reported to have been stationed outside Dujiangyan People’s Court in Sichuan province, where grieving parents have been presenting their cases regularly since the earthquake.

Policemen reportedly manhandled protesters and then dragged them away from the court. They also prevented parents from delivering their papers to the court.

BBC News reported that in addition, officials removed wreaths left at Xinjian Primary School. BBC quoted Xu Yan, whose 11-year-old daughter died in the quake, as saying of the regime: “They went too far. They have no consideration.”

There was no official response on why the wreaths were removed.

Clampdown on Media

The crackdown on the protests comes shortly after the Chinese regime ordered journalists to tone down stories critical of the quality of the school buildings that are referred to in China as “tofu” for their poor quality and strength.

In some districts, school buildings were the only ones to collapse while several government buildings remained intact. The quake killed 69,000 people, many of whom were schoolchildren trapped under school buildings that collapsed, and left China in a state of mourning.

Several Chinese are wondering whether the clampdown comes under the orders of Zhou Yongkang, currently Secretary of the CCP’s Central Political and Legislative Committee, who was the Secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Committee from 1999 to 2002, during which time several school buildings of shoddy quality were built.