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Yahoo Japan to Serve Ads to Passersby Based on Age, Gender

Yahoo Japan Corp. will begin distributing targeted content via electronic billboards in train stations and other facilities, based on who is walking past.

The company is teaming with Comel Co., which installs and operates electronic billboards. Cameras mounted on Comel's billboards will photograph passersby. Characteristics such as sex and age will be determined using facial analysis technology from NEC Soft Ltd., according to the companies (via MediaBuyerPlanner).

Yahoo Japan will begin the campaign with 500 billboards in train stations and shopping malls in Southern Japan, displaying content like news, weather and ads. Yahoo will then expand the service to Tokyo and Osaka, doubling the number of the billboards, writes CrunchGear.

Last summer, an article in The New York Times about billboards with facial-recognition capabilities caused a tempest over privacy issues. One company offering such technology, TruMedia Technologies, sent a letter to the paper explaining that the company would never record or store any video from the billboards.

The technology behind the billboards only analyzes the images its cameras take. No individually identifiable info is ever stored, the letter stated (via Engadget).

TruMedia’s camera-equipped billboards - inspired by Israeli surveillance - track viewers’ faces to gather reliable viewing data for digital displays and screens.

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