In Minority Report, your retinas are tools of capitalism: Just one quick scan, and stores know your identity, your purchasing history, and whether there are any warrants out for your arrest. Today, online advertisers already what you like and where you shop based on the cookies in your browser. And offline advertising is about to get even smarter, too, with a new kind of billboard that can identify you instantly.The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, a non-profit organization funded by the Korean government, has filed a patent for electronic interactive billboards that display information relevant to the individual who touches it:

The display would download details about that person's interests and recent activities, and display a relevant advert. Downloads like detailed product brochures could also be offered. Whether people would want to interact with ads in this way is another matter. To address this, the patent suggests goodies could be offered too – for example special-offer coupons, or even music and films. Billboards in places where people wait for buses or trains would be ideal spots to get people interacting, suggest the team.


Such an approach to advertising depends on the proliferation of body area networks, personal networks that would integrate all of your personal electronics devices:

Options for such body area networks include skin-clinging radio waves, or tiny vibrations through the skeleton that let people swap data with a handshake.

It may push us one step closer to cyborgdom, but if advertisers are interested in the identity tracking capabilities of this technology, governments can’t be too far behind. Invention: Billboards that know you at a touch [New Scientist via Kurzweil]