I love going to the movies. I mostly go to see "guy movies" as my wife calls them. You know, the kind with car chases, explosions, sports metaphors, and a hero saving the world. Not that I am a Tom Cruise fan, but one movie I have seen over and over is Minority Report.
There is one scene in the movie where Tom Cruise is racing through a mall and the electronic advertisements change to specifically target him. They go so far as to call him by his character's name, John Anderson. You can see this scene on YouTube.
Today we have become accustomed to seeing personalized ads when we browse websites. You may not know this, but retail outlets already have the capability to change their electronic displays based on the demographics of the people currently in a store. If a younger crowd is present, simply change the ads to current cultural references. When someone like me walks in, maybe the displays become a bit more nostalgic.
This week Facebook purchased a company that develops facial recognition software, face.com. Imagine the possibilities...
You can walk into a store and and the electronic displays change to meet the specific items in your Facebook profile. A clerk, that has been alerted that you have entered, sees your profile to assist them in assisting you. The clerk recognizes you from your profile picture, greets you by name, and welcomes you back; they know you visited last week from the information in their corporate database.
As you are leaving, the clerk reminds you that it is one of your Facebook Friend's birthdays next week. The friend's wish list has an item on it that can be found in aisle three.
By the way, there is nothing in this scenario that cannot be accomplished using current technology. The question is how do you avoid being recognized? Unfortunately, you may just have to wear a mask.
Bob Siegel is a privacy professional holding US and IT privacy certifications from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Follow him on Twitter: @PrivacyRef