The eyes have it

In the world of smart storefronts and personalized advertisements, Kraft's new face-scanning store kiosks fit right in. German research institute Fraunhofer developed an interactive window display that sidewalk-lookers can control with their facial expressions, reports Discovery News. The Fraunhofer system uses four cameras to track the spatial positions of a viewer's hands, eyes and face, then transforms her motions into commands.

Debuting at the 2011 National Retail Federation Show, the "Meal Planning Solution," part of Intel's "Connected Store," is a kiosk you might find in an upscale suburban market, catering to families desperate to find something the kids will eat. The average shopper, says Kraft's VP of retail experience, Don King, has only 10 recipes in his or her average mealtime rotation: Spaghetti, pizza, hamburgers, chicken, etc., and 70 percent of them don't know what they will make for dinner that night. Kraft's goal is to help them expand that repertoire using, of course, Kraft Products.

The kiosk uses anonymous video analytics (AVA) determining when a face is looking at it, then categorizes the customer into gender and demographic groups in order to make a suggestion. Although this does give one pause, AVA cannot recognize an individual and does not store information (yet) about individuals anywhere (hence the "anonymous"). Rather, AVA simply looks for known patterns of shape and light/dark to determine what's an eye, a nose, etc.

Some might think this technology is a bit too intrusive and "big brother." Kraft, on the other hand, claims their dinner ideas are healthy options, and even includes a "sample" after customers interact.