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Bargain with Big Brother: Facebook app to offer customer deals by spying

Published time: August 14, 2012 09:25
Edited time: August 14, 2012 13:25
A Facedeals camera. Image by Redpepper

A Facedeals camera. Image by Redpepper

A planned targeted advertising system can mine your Facebook pictures to identify you, and automatically check you in to a business you’re visiting. It will then offer you personalized deals and coupons, creators say.

­Dubbed ‘Facedeals,’ the system is the brainchild of advertising agency Redpepper, based in Nashville, Tennessee. It uses Wi-Fi-equipped cameras to compare the faces of people entering a business to photos uploaded to Facebook. Once a person is identified, a special offer based on whether they ‘liked’ the business, and how often, may be sent to their smartphone.

Users must first install a Facebook app that will extract data from their profile and peg it to facial recognition software. In a preview video, a Redpepper spokesperson explains: "Check-ins provide a powerful mechanism for businesses to deliver discounts to loyal customers. But few businesses and even fewer customers are taking advantage of this. So we set out to evolve the check-in process by creating a seamless method for checking in and getting deals."

The company says its cameras and software are based on open-source technologies, including Raspberry Pi, Arduino, OpenCV and the Facebook Graph API. Facedeals is currently being beta-tested in Nashville, but Redpepper plans a worldwide rollout in the near future.

Facial recognition is an increasingly broad and rapidly progressing technology, which has raised fears of unchecked surveillance among privacy advocates. The latest document dump by Wikileaks revealed there may be a similar surveillance network called Trapwire operating clandestinely across the US, which uses camera footage to automatically track people and identify possible security threats.

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