Is Biometric Technology An Unnecessary Intrusion Or A Promising Marketing Tool?

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Recently, Planet Biometrics posted a story entitled “Biometrics Cruise into the Disney Dream” that described how facial recognition biometric technology is used throughout their new cruise ship in “moving art” and personalized photography.  “Moving art” is interactive art spread throughout the ship that contains moving pictures which are cued to play once a passenger stands in front of the screen.  Facial recognition is used to recognize the person that is standing in front of the screen so that the same interactive video does not play twice.  In addition, Disney uses facial recognition technology to help sort and consolidate the reams of photos that staff photographers snap of individuals and families as they enjoy their time on the ship and Castaway Cay Island.  Facial recognition biometrics saves a lot of time and creates efficiencies for passengers to find the photos that are exclusive to themselves and their families.

In case you missed it, at the 2011 National Retail Federation “Retail’s Big Show” in New York, Kraft Foods debuted a state of the art kiosk which can instantly scan a passerby, determine their gender and age group, then suggest which food products might be an attractive meal idea.  It even goes so far as to allow a customer to scan their loyalty card and search their past ordering history to hone their choices even more.  Wow.  Pretty cool.

Which brings us to the subject of our blog post.  With the increasing sophistication of technology that surrounds us and the use of biometric identification to help customize marketing messages to consumers, is biometrics becoming a gigantic intrusion into our personal lives or a savvy tool for companies to personalize their message?

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Big brands would argue that they are simply utilizing biometrics in this capacity as a means to engage customers by tailoring a solution or offering that is relevant and timely.  They vehemently deny storing anyone’s image or sharing biometric information with anyone.  On the other side of the coin, privacy advocates worry (and perhaps rightfully so) that companies are indeed storing these images and as biometrics becomes more and more prevalent for identification in many different vertical markets, the protection of an individual’s biometric template information is not secure and regulated by a set of national standards.

Valid arguments can be made for both sides of the fence.  Expect to see biometrics popping up more often in companies’ efforts to engage with their customers and to help enhance their in-store or entertainment experience.

What’s your take?  Should we allow companies to use biometric technology as a means to personalize their marketing message to consumers for entertainment or direct sales?  Do privacy advocates have a convincing argument when they question the use of biometrics in this capacity?  Please share your thoughts in our comments section below.

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John Trader is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager with M2SYS Technology, a recognized industry leader in biometric identity management technology. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA M2SYS Technology's mission is to pioneer the high-tech industry by delivering long-term value to customers, employees and partners through continued innovation and excellence in all aspects of our business. M2SYS continues to innovate, build and bring to market leading-edge biometrics solutions that revolutionize the industry and expand the applicability of biometrics technology in our marketplace. You can view their Web site at www.m2sys.com or contact them via e-mail at info@m2sys.com