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Yahoo! spymasters! patent! biometric! online! ad! tracking! IRL!

Slow walkers, traffic jams, signs of success.

Privacy sell-out Yahoo! has filed patents for roadside billboards outfitted with biometric spy cameras and microphones to collect data from passers-by.

The NSA's bed warmer described a billboard that contained video and audio collection capabilities, and even retina scans and speech recognition to determine what viewers are looking at or discussing.

The P0wnage Palace reckons billboards with rotating advertisements are a relic, and should be more akin to the online variants which track and tailor to individuals.

"But while these billboards represent a step in the direction of the digital age, they lag far behind their online counterparts in a number of respects," Yahoo! says in its patent application [PDF].

"As the context of public advertising has not been amenable to the use of such techniques, it has been difficult for advertisers to determine whether their investments in such advertising channels are effective."

Sensors in the billboards would determine if pedestrians slow their pace or if drivers ease the gas to rubber neck at the so-called "smart billboards".

Yahoo! reckons that kind of data will fill a feedback void that sees advertisers unable to measure engagement with audiences.

The technology could form the basis for charging advertisers for placement when sensors determine an advertisement has been read, something akin to clicking web banners.

"For example, if it can be determined or estimated from sensor data associated with a public advertising display that more than some specific number of individuals were in a position to view specific advertising content, the placement of that content could be considered to be successful resulting in the advertiser being charged for its placement," Yahoo! says.

News of the patent comes has Yahoo! defended news the company has aided the NSA by reading users' email, plus the delayed announcement of a substantial breach at the company. ®

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