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Advertisers' dream as Japanese display identifies customers

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) July 18, 2008
A new high-tech Japanese electronic display can instantly identify people's sex or age range and target them with advertisements to suit them, maker NEC Corp. said Friday.

The 50-inch (127-centimetre) plasma display will appear at an annual festival in Tokyo run by Fuji Television network. The event, which runs from Saturday until August 31, drew more than four million visitors last summer.

A camera on top of the display recognises on-the-spot the age and sex of viewers who are standing in front of it.

If the device finds viewers are predominantly female in their 20s, it will show cute miscellaneous items sold by Fuji Television for young women or an NEC cellphone designed for the demographic.

"Conventional advertisements may show cellphones for young women to men over 60," said Hiroshi Takahashi at NEC's solution business promotion division.

"Changing advertising products in accordance with the viewer would bring advertising closer to the purchaser," he said.

The system will be presented as entertainment at the Fuji event, with visitors knowing they are being watched, Takahashi said.

But the system is seen as having growth potential as companies struggle to win the attention of customers who are increasingly bombarded by advertisements throughout the day.

Those who are interested in what is being advertised can hold their cellphones over a special device, which feeds them a URL link, coupons and other information on the products.

Advertisers can tell whether the promotion has been effective by checking whether viewers visited their stores or made purchases.

The display will disappear at the end of the festival but NEC is in talks with another company to set up a similar system, Takahashi said.

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