I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

Progress and evolution are not clean processes anywhere, and certainly not in the realm of tech. For every cool innovation that gets widely adopted to the point we can’t imagine living without it, there is an entire battlefield bloodied with bad, mistimed, and unthought-through ideas. Here’s an example, I think, of one of those.

It’s called Facedeals, and it’s a camera that recognizes faces from pictures uploaded to Facebook (although it has no connection to the company). It then, when you walk in a store equipped with one of these device, checks you in and gives you special deals and discounts. Seems like a bad idea on paper, but the reason people are talking about it is it’s not on paper. According to the company that makes it, Redpepper (which is also an ad agency), it’s being beta-tested at a store in Nashville, where the company is located. That means that somebody thought this idea good enough to work it up past prototype and into beta and marketing.

Obviously, at first blush this seems creepy, even if it works by people voluntarily signing up for it, but is it really that different from Near-Field Communications, where just walking into a store with your phone on could trigger the exact same thing? Mabye not. Maybe it’s just cultural bias against cameras monitoring us. I mean, I’ll fill out a ten-page form full of personally identifying information about me, but take me picture? That’s like Big Brother stuff.

Although I can’t quite put my finger on the difference between the two, this smacks of one of those technologies that pretends to be one thing but is really for another not-really-consumer-friendly purpose. Like speed cameras. Or social media in general, I guess. So that’s a moot point.

Plus, I can’t believe that the first widespread consumer use of facial recognition will be so that we can get a discount on a sweater. But what do I know? Part of me is still suspicious that tablet computers as they’re mostly used now are kind of silly.