Cheap face-recognition is now available to merchants for just $880 dollars per month per store. Using a simple PC and video camera system, the service makes use of face-recognition software powered by NEC's cloud computing services to estimate the age and gender of clients, and tracks frequency of shopping across locations.
Its amazing how quickly applications go from the military to civilian life, isn't it?
Now, the unpleasant future shown in Steven Spielberg's 2002 movie Minority Report can be yours! In this scene, Tom Cruise (with newly implanted eyes from a Mr. Yakimoto) enters a store.
In the film, the particular technology is an iris scanner that actually identifies individual shoppers. I note that NEC does not quite offer this level of service - yet.
Update: In their 1931 novel Exiles of the Moon, the Golden Age team of Schachner and Zagat describe a selective electric eye.
But the selective beam of the electric eye refused to swing open the portal. Already the orders of the master of the house had barred the door against her. The actuating mechanism that should have operated by the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell, remained dead.