Alexa, Google Assistant and other natural language processing (NLP) technology might be getting all the AI attention lately, but computer vision, its visual counterpart, is gaining quickly. Case in point: The number of overall cameras (in-device and standalone) is expected to rise by 220% in the next five years, according to LDV Capital. In addition, smartphones are increasingly able to do more complex forms of AR, and the recent CES had an increased proliferation of computer vision technologies that encompassed everything from autonomous cars and 3-D body scanners to thermal imaging cameras and robots. Life-changing implementations aside, computer vision overall offers cutting-edge opportunities for marketers looking to elevate their efforts. Here are four cool and cutting-edge examples with the most potential for marketers.
Making The Most Of Existing Cameras And Data
One of the great advantages that digital advertising has had over its print, billboard and other physical space counterparts is the ability to track its effectiveness in real time. That advantage may fade if a new startup aiming to track the demand, supply and performance of advertising spaces in the real world takes off. Launching in June 2018,Blimp uses a mix of publicly available data from closed-circuit TVs, satellite, traffic and other sensors, as well as its own proprietary mobile signal trackers and cameras, applying computer vision to footage, for example, to count heads up to 50 meters away. The algorithms mix all this data to track impressions, gender, age, income and views in a privacy-compliant way for any public advertising space, from billboards and cars to doors or even T-shirts.
Similarly, Aura Vision Labs uses computer vision and biometric identification to discern the gender, age and clothing styles of people showing up in public camera footage, even those in crowds, without accessing any sensitive personal information. The idea is to use this technology in retail scenarios, where in-store visitor demographics, dwell spots, walk-ins and walk-bys can be captured and analyzed in real-time more comprehensively and accurately than current methods, such as loyalty cards, allow for.
Cars As Advertising And Brand Spaces
Toyota recently unveiled e-Palette, an autonomous van platform that allows any individual vehicle to be turned into a moving retail store, hospital, hotel room, restaurant, delivery drone and more. Besides enabling driving, computer vision will also be used in e-Palette stores and restaurants to automatically check out customers purchasing items or dining, like a moving version ofAmazon’s Go robo-store. From moving branded lounges at, say, Lollapalooza or the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, e-Palette offers next-gen and flexible activation and experiential marketing opportunities for any brand. Already, Amazon, Pizza Hut and Uber have signed on as part of the e-Palette Alliance to develop uses for the technology. The car of the future will do more than get us from point A to point B — it will be a highly flexible environment that can serve as everything from a living space or workspace to retail shop, hotel or entertainment venue, making it a prime environment for advertising and brand presence.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
As Charmin proved years ago with its SitorSquat public bathroom finder, making a useful product that dovetails nicely with your brand is an excellent way to generate value for your brand and consumers alike. If you aren’t inherently a technology company, then collaborate with one with a specialty in your brand’s sector.
The marketing team at Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena teamed up with startup Fitskin to create an iPhone app and camera peripheral that has a moisture sensor, 12 high-powered LED lights (to standardize lighting conditions, a drawback of other visual skin analyzers) and a 30-times magnification lens to capture super close-up images of your forehead, chin and cheek. It then feeds those images to the Skin360 app’s cloud-connected machine learning algorithm to detect your age and analyze how big and deep your pores and wrinkles are, as well as hydration levels. Finally, the app makes (Neutrogena and natural, non-branded) product and skincare regime recommendations, which get smarter over time.
At $50 when it comes out this summer, the SkinScanner device and free Skin360 app offer a useful and surprisingly spot-on service that usually costs a lot more when performed at a dermatologist’s office. Given that there’s no other product quite like it at this price point, it enables the Neutrogena brand to be synonymous with beauty tech as well as drives sales. Startups with innovative uses of computer vision — from simple 3-D scanning on smartphones and low-cost cameras to AI-enabled AR glasses — serve as good partners for marketing teams looking to capitalize on cutting-edge, brand synergistic technology.
Ads That Follow Your Gaze
Mindtronic AI’s face-tracking interactive dashboard uses facial and biometric recognition (with the addition of a smile for added security), to identify drivers, then syncs your smartphone with the car dashboard to provide you with all your personalized info from weather to messages to music. So far, it may not sound like much more than Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but here’s the cool part: Thanks to face tracking, the interface turns, adjusts and dynamically changes based on where you turn your face and aim your gaze. If you’re looking to the right, weather or navigation info might turn up; to the left, a text message might appear. No need to worry about not seeing the speedometer since it’ll follow your eyes even if you turn to the left for a minute. This could also make for a good gaze-initiated ad space with real-time attention metrics in cars, but it also could be applied to video displays, smartphone screens and other interfaces, redefining the concept of interactive.