Face Forward

Earlier this week I visited with Jason Sosa, an entrepreneur and founder of New York-based IMRSV (formerly Immersive Labs) – which just today was named one of Time Inc.’s 10 NYC Startups to Watch for 2013.

Immersive’s product, Cara (Spanish for “face”) is ultra-light software that turns any camera – including web- and phone cams -- into an intelligent sensor that can gather anonymous audience analytics such as gender, age, attention time and even emotions, in real-time. What’s more, this data is gathered anonymously and is encrypted, so privacy-minded consumers – especially those who have seen the movie, Minority Report – need not worry about their personal information being collected.

However, Cara does capture a lot of data in real-time, and this can deliver more personalized promotions for retailers, especially when included in a branded promotion. Among the data it collects is gender (male or female), four sets of age groups (child, young adult, adult, and senior), engagement data (attention time, glances, emotions), and where the watcher is in terms of her proximity to the camera.

When integrated to digital display programming software, Cara can tailor the display’s promotions to the demographics of those shoppers standing in front of it. So if it detects a 41 year old male it might display a barbecue marinade or beer, of if it detects a teenage girl it may display a beauty care product.

But that’s just scratching the surface. Cara can be used with inexpensive ($25) webcams that can be hidden in displays to see who is stopping to look at the displays, and for how long. Put’em at the checkout and you can measure traffic flow. Place several cameras throughout an aisle and you can determine the traffic patterns of each demographic tracked.

On top of all this, Cara is inexpensive, and is priced in a pay-as-you-go model, so it’s relatively low-risk to pilot.

Sosa recently demonstrated this technology during a presentation on facial detection technology at TedxTalks Silicon Alley last month.

But, as I learned, there’s nothing like experiencing it with your own face -- in real-time.


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