TOKYO: New interactive billboards that target individual passers-by based on their age and gender have been demonstrated in Japan.

NEC Corp, a domestic electronics firm, hopes to improve the targeting of outdoor ads via its PanelDirector system.

The new billboards contain an embedded camera which scans the face of people who look at the display.

This information is then compared and matched against a database of 10,000 "male" or "female", "young" or "old" facial patterns before the system serves a targeted ad.

For example, a younger female consumer participating in the demonstration, which was held at NEC headquarters in Tokyo, was shown an ad for a pasta brand.

The communications will also be tailored depending on how long the passer-by stays next to the screen.

Rival electronics firm NTT Communications is developing similar billboard technology and installed a system in a station in the capital city earlier in 2010.

NEC said: "The effectiveness of content may now be measured through ... NEC's cutting-edge face recognition technology.

"[This] determines the age range and gender of individuals, and its highly accurate audience measurement services, which calculates the distance from, and amount of time that an individual pays attention to a display in order to deliver content that is most likely to appeal to a specific audience."

Data sourced from Discovery; additional content by Warc staff