Camera system to track eye movements of shoppers

Philips applied for a patent of a camera system that makes note of what shoppers look at in window displays.
Using a set of video cameras and eye tracking software the system will be able to tell what someone looking at a window display has been staring at the longest, and will then provide more detailed information about the product via a passive or even interactive video display in hopes it will push them towards making a purchase decision.


  1. and as this tech evolves,so an arms race develops in human disciplines to defeat the machine. Soon enough we will automatically adopt the Manner of Walking Out – wherein all body language is filtered and adjusted to spoof intent and occlude inner meanings. The Public Eye will be the method where many hours of training produces a gaze that follows meaningless micro-motions and paths that give false patterns. Physical body disciplines such as yoga will flourish. Since all this requires significant time and wealth to perfect, two classes will evolve: The Known (drones) and The Free (you wish).

  2. Note to self: Buy V for Vendetta mask. Do NOT look at it while purchasing.

    Seriously, I’m going to start wearing mirrored shades everywhere I go ~ I don’t care if it seems anti-social, our society is anti-social.

    Effing Corporations.

  3. I used to giggle when I saw those green full-face visors. Now, I’m think that is an easier approach than updating my “meaningless micro-motions.”

  4. Minority Report was prophetic. Good morning shoppers! Please make sure you look into the retinal scanners, thank you and have a nice day.

  5. have GOT to organized on that Maskers religion. Never mind the tax scam and true believers to pluck, it’ll soon be the only way I can legally protect my identity. Anyone got some sturdy tenets of primary belief lying around? I’ll give ya twenny bucks, but you gotta file off the serial numbers.

  6. Michael Crichton’s Looker was even more prophetic (1981). …Albert Finney’s eye movements being tracked while he watches a television ad.

  7. Yeah, that lazy eye is sure gonna come in handy now!


  8. You could screw with this by taping a picture of real eye candy on the outside of the glass, over something unlikely:

    “According to our latest eyeball attention survey, passers-by were most interested in the package of kitty litter left in as a control.”

  9. lying on my back, bare feet pressed up against yours, wearing a mask, commenting on BoingBoing…. yeah, that’s a winner! Have to include shots though.

  10. Hmm, what if you like to use shop window reflections to spot if someone is following you ? I suppose it is possible to use the system to detect if someone is looking at a reflection rather than merchandise.

    If so I suspect the logical extension (for our paranoid masters) would be to look out for people looking at relections rather than the goods on display. This would trigger an alert to the local security authorities with video evidence etc. After all if you are not shopping you must be up to no good.

  11. Wow. I wrote a story many years ago for a short animated (never produced) movie that was set in the near-future. It had a TV that had all sorts of ads running continuously beside and around the actual TV show (and the were always floating and changing position so no hack could blank out fixed areas of the screen), and you would automatically purchase the products just by looking at the ads. Yikes!

  12. it’s feature bloat like this that makes me really hate new versions of RealLife. i wish we weren’t forced into updates and could just run our own private servers.

  13. The links to the patent are down. Did anyone see the application date on it?

    I met someone a few years ago who was testing a similar system on Billboards. I wish I could remember who.

  14. I’ve participated in (paid) computer marketing research sessions where they put you alone in a dark room and display a bunch of print ads for PC products up on a screen. Then they track the movement of your eyes to see which part of the ad attracted your attention the most. Then they ask you a bunch of questions about how the ad made you “feel”. I guess this is the same application but taken to the consumer level. I think it will only be a matter of time before this implemented on web sites using all those built-in web cams.

  15. My first stop would be the x-ray specs rack at the joke shop. Then on to complete the rest of my shopping elsewhere…

  16. Putting my dystopia radar aside (despite it’s wild, off-the-charts blinking), this just seems like an incredibly off-putting idea for consumers. People dislike being pushed into a sale, which is one of the reasons window shopping exists — no dealing with pushy employees or salespeople. You go inside for that. But this tech is the equivalent of putting someone outside saying to every passerby “Hey — what’s that you’re lookin at? Yeah it’s nice. You should buy it. Now. Swipe your card.”

    All I can figure is that this will either be used for pure, silent, creepy research or be overused by marketers and push people evn further away from storefronts.

  17. I’m all for it, particularly the part about customizing the video in the display.
    Advertising is irritating when it’s for products you don’t like, presented in ways you don’t care for, at times you don’t want to put up with it. If you can see just what you like in a store window, that’s not horrifying, it’s relaxing– the useless and annoying crap is removed.

  18. Ha! Big business department stores have been doing this for years… You didn’t think all those security cams at Target/WalMart were for shoplifters, did you? No way! Those cameras are tracking foot patterns, number of seconds a customer pauses to look at a certain item, etc.
    There’s a whole pattern to the way one “browses” – and this guy’s patent might only be approved if those big box stores want to keep all the spying they’ve been doing all these years hush-hush.

  19. I’d be surprised if this patent holds up – this is hardly unique: eye tracking has been used for years in consumer marketing research. The company I worked for had devices for store shelves that could track your eye movement to help justify product placement. It simply used IR emitters and would catch the reflection of the IR in your retina (I presume) as you looked around. It was very wonky and was obscenely expensive. A Swedish company TOBII makes eye trackers for PCs and video (for usability, human factors and advertising studies). That said, this seems like the same application except for shop windows.

  20. Back at a Marrakesh rug store I learned that the four or five salesmen there have mastered this skill out of experience. You just couldn’t stare too long at an article without any of them offering it to you. Advice: Haggling is mandatory.

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