Companies want to sell us their products. They spend millions positioning themselves within our view. They spend millions learning about our behaviour. Facebook and Google track everything users do: we search for headphones on Google, five minutes later we see an ad for the exact same product browsing through the Facebook newsfeed. Amazon uses purchase activity, repeat purchases and wish lists to track user activity to find out how customers feel about their products.
What if they have the ability to know with extreme precision how we feel about their products? What if companies like Amazon and McDonald’s can show us what we want on our devices based on how we feel at that exact moment? Well, we’re not there yet but we’re not far off.
We all use smartphones with front facing cameras right? They are only getting more advanced. (Tangent: I always find it funny when I see people cover the camera on their laptop with a sticker but not on their phone’s front facing camera. One would think your phones would catch weirder events…). The iPhone X has a built-in, front-facing projector. It projects 30,000 dots of light in the invisible infrared spectrum onto your friggin’ face. Apple doesn’t allow developers to access Face ID data yet, but who knows in the future?
It’s not just Apple, many companies are jumping on board ‘the emotional revolution’ train, starting to build APIs for developers to build emotion-detection and tracking.
Imagine looking at photos on Instagram, smiling at a photo of a cake and showing disgust at a photo of a steak. Marketers now know you’re a cake loving vegetarian.
Disney are already doing this in their theme parks. They have created a system to watch an audience member as they view films. It can track reactions like smiling and laughter on hundreds of faces in a dark cinema, allowing Disney to quantify whether or not a film is working as intended. It’s easy to imagine such technology eventually reaching our smartphones and other devices. [source]
The emotional data companies can accumulate will be tremendous. The question is, will we allow them to do this? Can we even stop them?
As much as we complain about privacy we are already slaves to technology. But is it worth the sacrifice?