Editor’s Note: This is the Minority Report world we have entered. Please also see the article by Nicholas West which covers the use of billboards to predict people’s political views. This is already being used in many areas around the world; it’s called “neuropolitics.” Naturally, this is terrific for advertisers in our digitally connected world of smart devices that monitor us at all times.
Imagine driving down a highway and seeing a personalized billboard ad directed at you. Now imagine advertisers using billboards to send messages to your smartphone.
That’s the future of’ ‘advertised spying’ in America. (Yes, I made that term up.)
An article in McClatchy, warns that a new generation of “smart digital billboards will detect the make, model and year of oncoming vehicles and project ads tailored to the motorist.”
The article ominously warns that smart billboards can guess a motorist’s home address, age, race and income level based on the vehicle they are driving. And also claims that advertisers will be able to send messages to a person’s smartphone as they pass by a smart billboard.
Companies like SYNAPS want to create a network of spying billboards.
SYNAPS, describes how advertisers can personalize their advertising…
It really is up to you to choose who will see your advertising – and it does not matter, where the billboard is. Pick your segment based on a specific car model and age, car price or size, or even how conservative or modern it is.
MIT’s connection to spying billboards
SYNAPS, appears to have gotten its start in Russia, as a recent article in MIT Technology Review points out.
Co-founders Alex Pustov and Alesky Utkin expect to be operating 20-50 smart billboards in Russia this year. They also claim to encrypt all the license plate data they collect.
Would you trust a foreign company with our license plate data?
According to SYNAPS, their American business is located at MIT’s Martin Trust in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What does Martin Trust do?
They claim to supply students with ‘support and connections to become effective entrepreneurs’.
Martin Trust also claims, they nurture and assist new companies and make sure they have long-term success.
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The McClatchy article warned, that smart billboards can spy on cellphones.
Smart billboards can also target motorists on the highway or pedestrians passing bus shelters by picking up cellular or mobile signatures, WiFi signals or even beaconing given off by certain apps.
Unfortunately, universities helping companies or government agencies to spy on the public has become the norm. (Click here to read how 200 universities are working with DHS.)
Would you trust a foreign company with our license plate and cellphone data? Will American law enforcement have access to that data?
SYNAPS is not the only company using smart billboards to target and track our travel patterns. Since 2015, automakers Lexus, GM and Chevrolet (seen below) have been using smart billboards to spy on motorists.
Earlier this year, General Motors received requests from numerous automotive companies and car dealerships to purchase their smart billboards. FYI, GM has also been using facial recognition billboards to spy on people.
Last year, Yahoo patented a smart billboard that uses cameras and microphones to spy on everyone.
The search giant has received a patent for a ‘smart billboard’ that uses cameras, microphones and a range of sensors to capture information of passers-by for ad targeting purposes. The sensors, cameras and microphones would work together to gather information about passers-by for ad targeting purposes.
There’s no getting around it, smart billboards are really corporate ‘advertised spying’ devices.
Smart billboards collect cellphone data
Last year, New York Senator Chuck Schumer warned everyone that smart billboards are spying on our cell phones.
We should assume that law enforcement will have access to smart billboard data just like they have with CCTV cameras.
Smart billboards coupled with CCTV cameras will create a huge surveillance network that would rival the United Kingdom for the most spied on nation in the world.