Innovation in the use of “big data” is everywhere, technology (particularly mobile tech) has made the regular use of the huge amounts of information that is collected constantly a part of our daily lives. True innovation in the collection of data, on the other hand, is much more rare.
Cara™ is a new service that uses face detection to collect “real-world, real-time data in physical spaces – whether the age or gender of a shopper, the sentiment of a crowd, or the velocity of an individual’s response to news”. Cara uses a standard webcam, computer, broadband connection and the Cara software to recognize certain facial characteristics and movements. Cara can track the duration of how long an individual pays attention to an object or space as well as the number of times someone glances (looks away and then back again) — amazingly, the system can also differentiate several watchers at the same time in the same session. Thanks to the accuracy of the system, the X-Y coordinates of the observer could be adapted to enhance augmented reality and motion or perspective tracking.
During a conversation with Jason Sosa, founder and CEO of IMRSV (pronounced “immersive”), we discussed the possibilities and limitations of the Cara system. In addition to the tremendous potential for face detection analytics, Cara could be used to create intelligent and interactive things and spaces, using the same face detection data to trigger events based on the audience. Similar to the way a motion sensing input device (for example, the Microsoft Kinect) recognizes body movements and causes reaction of an on-screen experience, a “Cara enabled” system would use face detection to have an avatar smile back at you, recognize a distracted (or tired) driver or engage students when their attention wanders.
IMRSV has recognized the potential for misuse stemming from the collection of this amount of recognizable information and has created a policy for information privacy: the Principles of Good Use (read the ethics statement here, direct link). This standard allows only anonymized data to be captured, in which no personal information is collected and no images are saved or recorded.
Currently, IMRSV is working with a number of firms (including the research arm of advertising conglomerate Interpublic Group and Verizon Wireless) to build applications for Cara. The initial version of Cara will be released as “Data as a Service” (DaaS), with monthly plans offered at $39.95 per month per camera.
Complete information about the Cara system can be found on the IMRSV website at imrsv.com.[hr]
On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, Cara was the wrap-up presentation for a capacity crowd at the NY Tech Meetup (if you missed it, you can find the video of the live stream here). Jason Sosa’s live demonstration had the audience’s attention (as you can tell by the near silence during the presentation). The big announcement from IMRSV was the availability of Cara this coming Monday (May 13, 2013) as a download from imrsv.com.