introduction
IMAGINING BIOMETRIC SECURITY

Mistakes are not abstract events or numbers, but lived phenomena
everyone experiences and must reckon with.
MARIANNE A. PAGET, THE UNITY OF MISTAKES
The billboard advertising a new science fiction miniseries towers above
passersby in Manhattan. Although it is unremarkable at first glance, those
who stop to look at the ad unknowingly relinquish significant personal
information. ‘‘Billboards that look back’’ are the latest in high-tech adver-
tising. Each contains a tiny biometric camera that analyzes the viewer’s
facial features for gender and age (Cli√ord 2008). These ‘‘smart’’ bill-
boards recall Minority Report (2002), Steven Spielberg’s film about a soci-
ety in which everyone is continually biometrically identified. The bill-
boards are produced by the biometric company Quividi, which asserts
that ‘‘the days of blind advertising are over.’’ Quividi designed the bill-
boards using technologies originally created for the Israeli military and
adapted for commercial purposes. These fulfill the industry’s desire for
technologies able to reach specific markets rather than military targets.
Using traditional gender markers in its high-tech marketing technolo-
gies, Quividi’s smart billboards identify men with blue circles and women
with pink circles (see their website). Although these biometric billboard
cameras do not yet collect information on the viewer’s race, Quividi as-
serts that the technology to do so is available and that race identifica-
tion may soon be added to the collectible parameters (personal corre-
spondence 2008). The color identification choices and symbols for race
have not yet been determined. Companies marketing these technologies
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