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5 Unexpected Places You Can Be Tracked With Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition technology has become more advanced, and it's increasingly popping up in two realms: law enforcement and commerce.

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".... the five-year contract, which is being fast-tracked and could be approved as early as next month, is drawing objections from privacy advocates who fear state and local authorities could use the biometric technology to monitor the movements of 'innocent people' -- for instance, spectators at a sporting event or an anti-war rally.

'We see this as sort of creeping Big Brother government, an invasion of people's privacy,' said Richard Holober, executive director of the San Mateo-based Consumer Federation of California."

If facial recognition technology in the hands of the DMV sounds like the makings of someone's mistaken-identity, Kaftaesque nightmare, it is. The unlucky John H. Gass of Massachusetts had to spend 10 days proving to the Massachusetts DMV that he had not committed ID fraud after facial recognition technology mistakenly  flagged his photo because he resembled another man.

3. Las Vegas casinos, and Kraft and Adidas stores

For years Las Vegas casinos have used various forms of facial recognition to identify card-counters. Now, Vegas is at the forefront of efforts to adapt facial recognition to more efficiently suck money out of visitors.

The LA Times reported last week that the Venetian hotel and casino has installed basic facial recognition software in advertisements. A camera captures an image of a person passing by and an algorithm determines their gender and rough age. The advertisement can then present them with products most likely to appeal to their demographic. 

Targeted ads are the holy grail of marketing. If you're an advertiser, you don't want to waste the priceless real-estate of a teen boy's brain with an ad for, say, tampons, so advertisers are constantly trying to figure out new ways to deliver the right ads to the right people. Thanks to tools that let companies track web surfing history and the detailed personal information featured on certain giant social networking sites, the digital world provides the best venue for targeted ads.

LA Times reporters Shan Li and David Sarno also got Kraft and Adidas to go on the record about their future plans to install the technology in ads and store kiosks:

"If a retailer can offer the right products quickly, people are more likely to buy something," said Chris Aubrey, vice president of global retail marketing for Adidas.

Kraft said it’s in talks with a supermarket chain, which it would not identify, to test face-scanning kiosks.

"If it recognizes that there is a female between 25 to 29 standing there, it may surmise that you are more likely to have minor children at home and give suggestions on how to spice up Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for the kids," said Donald King, the company’s vice president of retail experience.

While these tools divulge very basic personal information, their potential seems limitless. Really, how tough would it be for more sophisticated technology to match a photo to someone's public Facebook profile, and determine in the process their marriage status, sexuality, hometown, politics, religious beliefs and any number of personality signifiers compiled online, thrusting their digital lives into physical space?

4. Bars 

Inevitably, facial recognition software is also being deployed for the purpose of getting people laid. SceneTap, an app developed by a Chicago company uses information from facial recognition cameras planted in bars to determine the ratio of women to men and the average age of customers. As of June, 200 bars across the country had signed up to take part,  according to Forbes.

SceneTap developers assured reporters that the cameras they're installing in bars do not capture high-enough-quality images to match them up to databases or Facebook profiles.