Saturday, April 28, 2012

Minority Report

Minority Report is a 2002 science fiction film directed by Steven SpielbergIt is set in the year 2054. “PreCrime” is a specialized police department, apprehending criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called precogs. The cast includes Tom Cruise as PreCrime captain John Anderton, Colin Farrell as Department of Justice agent Danny Witwer, and Max von Sydow as Anderton's superior Lamar Burgess.  
A man wearing a leather jacket stands in a running pose. A flag with the PreCrime Department insignia stands in the background. The image has a blue tint, and many flashing lights. Tom Cruise's name stands atop the poster, and the film title, credits, and the tagline "Everybody Runs June 21" are on the bottom.

In the movie, facial recognition advertising billboards recognize passers-by via facial recognition technology; the billboards call them by name, and these magical billboards deliver customer specific advertisements. Cruise's character is confronted with digital signs that call out his name as he walks through a futuristic shopping mall. 

IBM and NEC are currently developing such billboards which plan to deliver customized adverts to individuals who carry identity tags. IBM feels they will not be obtrusive as their billboards will only advertise products which a customer is interested in. Advertisers are embracing these billboards as they figure to reduce costs by lowering the number of adverts wasted on uninterested consumers.

When I arrived at Google headquarters, the first thing that I did was “scan in”. I’ve had my photo taken at corporate security desks before, but nothing like this. Little did I know, from that from this moment forward, Tom Capone was going to be playing the role of another “TC” – Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

When you order coffee at Google, the R2D2-like coffee machine talks to you. It says hello – by name. It remembers. It knows how you take your coffee. When you move from room to room, the building knows where you are (just in case anyone is looking for you).  And this is all via facial recognition.

Now, let’s just say (for example) you are a Real Estate Professional.  Let’s say that you have a hot lead from someone relocating from New York. What if, just from having a digital photo of that prospective client (maybe you took their photo when you met them):

You would know all of their interests.  You would know what sports like they like.  You would know what kind of car they drive (or hope to drive). You know where they vacation (or where they hope to vacation). You know what kind of shoes they like, where they like to shop, know what kind of food they like, know how many children they have, know what movies they like, whether they like the country, the mountains, the beach. What if you had access to all of the postings, the blogs, the Facebook pages, the Twitter feeds that they follow? What if all of the “data” of their past many years of web surfing and online website and portal browsing and emails were analyzed, probed, sifted and sorted, to create a digital, virtual identity of this prospect?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2054. I saw things this week that well – quite frankly - freaked me out. Some of these things I cannot discuss as I am under NDA, but suffice it to say that knowledge is power and Google is a very (very) powerful company. What I mention here in this blog is public knowledge to anyone who has visited their lobby and visitor reception areas.

What if three Real Estate Agents were competing for this single prospective client.  What if only one agent had access to this vast database of knowledge, all compiled into a useful form.  A virtual “This is Your Life” of the prospect.  What if you could show this prospect a compiled video of the homes in neighborhoods that were pre-filtered, pre-sorted to be a perfect match to this prospect's digital profile?  

Can you not see how the Real Estate Professional with access to such technology would have a competitive advantage over other Real Estate Professionals?

I was at Google for the day.  When I wanted a second cup of coffee, it knew how I took my coffee. The coffee machine was paying attention. It even said “Thomas Capone, enjoy your regular coffee with milk and sugar”. The coffee machine knew my name, because it recognized my face, all because I was properly scanned when I arrived. By the way, Google Coffee Machine has an English Accent; I wonder if I should have asked for tea?

It was not that the coffee machine knew me – the entire building knew me. When it was time to use the restroom, the doors are not marked for guys or gals. They knew that I was a candidate for the men’s room, and the men’s room door opened for me as I approached. 

For those of you who use Gmail, you know that when you send and receive Gmail, the system is learning from your transmissions.  The reason that Gmail is free is because of advertising revenue that is created by the Google data mining process.  How many of you have noticed the free advertising on the right hand side of Gmail that is amazingly connected to the topics contained within your emails?  Now throw facial recognition technology on top, and you have Minority Report like data mining.

Knowledge is Power. Time is money, and Speed Kills.  Put all of these into a blender, add some entrepreneurial creativity, mix thoroughly and you have a virtual Google protein shake.  

The average person knows around 1% of the products and services of Google. Business Analytics and Data Mining is the future, and Google is way, way ahead of the curve.

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