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Big Beardie is watching you: Lord Sugar gets into facial recognition

Most people's faces won't fit, we're guessing

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Lord Alan Sugar is building a huge outdoor network of advert-slinging, face-detecting cameras.

When complete, the bearded tycoon's creepy surveillance technology will monitor up to 50 million Europeans and then beam tailored ads at them.

The Apprentice star's company Amscreen runs a huge digital advertising network of 6,000 video screens placed in public across the Continent and Britain. The firm is in the process of launching a new system called OptimEyes, which will not only suss out who is looking at the screens, but just how effective the ads are based on the amount of time punters spend gawping at the plugs.

It's claimed cameras installed in the Amscreen displays are capable of reliably identifying the gender and age of advert watchers as well as the "volume" of viewers at any given time - The Reg presumes "volume" is the number of people looking at the adverts rather than an attempt by Lord Sugar to determine how fat they are.

The "unique face detection technology" was originally developed by "automated audience measurement" biz Quividi.

Amscreen claims to show adverts to more than 50 million people a week. Although Lord Sugar's son is the overall boss of the project, the man fondly dubbed The Hairy Walnut by El Reg is its chairman. Apprentice winner Yasmina Siadatan also works there and is in charge of selling screens to the NHS.

Advertisers often wonder how many people actually look at their plugs and worry they're wasting their cash on useless campaigns. The new system aims to make sure the ads are more effective, or at least flagging up the rubbish ones that no one wants to stare at.

Simon Sugar, Amscreen CEO, said: "Brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are too. Through our Face Detection technology, we want to optimise our advertisers campaigns, reduce wastage and in-turn deliver the type of insight that only online has previously been able to achieve."

Amscreen has more than 4,000 advertising screens in the UK alone, placed mostly in "close proximity environments" such as forecourts, outside corner and high-street shops and around doctors' surgeries. Some 30 million Brits see the screens every week, we're told.

The company has also rolled out its screens into Germany, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria - and lobbed the following video about the facial recognition technology onto the web:

Amscreen sent El Reg this link for anyone who wants to know the "full extent" of Lord "You're fired"'s network. ®

Top three mobile application threats

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