Facial recognition firm Alfi says it won’t use ethnicity to target ads to viewers

·1 min read

Miami Beach-based Alfi says its facial detection technology can recognize an individual’s ethnicity — but that it has chosen not to deploy it in the tablets it plans to install in Ubers and Lyfts to comply with privacy and security protocols.

The Miami Herald published a story on Sunday explaining Alfi’s goal of transforming the advertising business by using facial detection technology to serve a user targeted ads on electronic tablets — without recognizing a user’s personal identity. In its April prospectus, Alfi said, “By providing age, gender, ethnicity and geolocation information, brand owners have all of the data they need for meaningful interaction.”

In an email after publication, the company said that, for now, its technology to target ads only uses age, gender and whether viewers are happy or sad.

“Alfi’s prospectus describes the various machine models that Alfi has developed, and the many things they have the ability to recognize,” the company told the Herald. “However, Alfi has not deployed all those models in its rideshare tablets.”

The company also said its technology is not reading skin tones, but declined to specify how it could detect ethnicity.

Afli stock has nearly doubled to more than $7 a share since debuting on the NASDAQ exchange in May, despite having limited revenues. It has been the focus of online chatter, especially on the website reddit.com, about its potential to introduce new forms of technology to the advertising world.

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