THE revolution is here and it won’t be televised. It will be beamed directly into your head. It will be everywhere you go, knowing what you are thinking, what you are wearing. It will probably be able to guess what you are going to do next, before even you know it.
Welcome to “Gladvertising,” the latest weapon in the digital battlefield. It uses tiny cameras to scan your facial expression and tailor adverts to suit your mood. Its “face-tracking algorithm” can distinguish between six emotions: happy, angry, sad, fearful, surprised and disgusted. It’s certainly clever, but these six categories seem to imply a rather cynical breakdown of the human psyche.
Of the six moods, at least four are negative (angry, sad, fearful and disgusted) and even surprise is questionable. Sure, a surprising event could be a nice party where your friends all jump out from behind the sofa, but it’s just as likely to be the bloke from down the road whipping open his trench-coat on a secluded pathway (an opportunity for a Crime Stoppers ad, perhaps).
What adverts could you tailor to surprise? The number for a health-care clinic in the split second before a truck splatters you into the tarmac? For that matter, disgust doesn’t seem like the ideal emotion to associate with your product either. Maybe an advert for Clarks shoes appearing as you step in a particularly virulent pile of dog mess makes a twisted kind of sense but do you really want your product to be forever associated with the smell of faeces?
And what if you just have a miserable face? Are you to be forever taunted with products designed to cheer you up, like sun drenched beaches and chocolate, when all you want is to find out where you can pick up a bottle of drain unblocker?
Gladvertising isn’t the only major development heading our way in the digital realm. Ads will be beamed from the cloud onto bikes and phone books. They will know when it’s raining and offer you an umbrella, or try to sell you a car if you’re waiting at a bus stop.
You will even be able to buy special sunglasses to project adverts onto anything you look at. The whole world will become a blank canvas. Look at a bottle of wine and Tesco can tell you whether it is on 3 for 2. A glance at Picasso’s Guernica might try to sell you a package holiday to Tenerife. Almost everything can be covered and there will be nowhere on earth it can’t reach you. The future is here, we just didn’t see it arrive.
Nintendo 3ds tested
NINTENDO’s hotly anticipated 3DS will finally arrive at the end of the month and I’ve been testing it out for the last week, during which time I haven’t put down (which raises some troubling questions I don’t feel comfortable answering here).
The Japanese firm has a lot to prove, with critics saying it is fighting a losing battle against increasingly sophisticated mobile phones. Thankfully, they are wrong: the 3DS is brilliant. The pre installed software alone offers a tantalising glimpse of what it is capable of. The augmented reality software, which superimposes images over the inbuilt camera, making digital objects appear to be in the room with you, is bafflingly good. Within five minutes of firing it up I had my workmates’ heads flying around the office while I fired tennis balls at them (which, incidentally, is a recurring dream I’ve been having). Digital animations danced across my desk. It’s like a particularly vivid hallucination without the possibility of terrifying flashbacks.
Launch titles will include Pilot Wings, which will lend itself perfectly to the console’s 3D capabilities, and Super Street Fighter IV, which you can play wirelessly against your mates. Add to this the prospect of a 3D re-issue of Ocarina of Time and you already have a roster of games worth shelling out for. The Wii changed the console world, paving the way for the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect. The 3DS will do the same for hand-held gaming. Out 25 March, from £187