The Piccadilly Lights billboard in Piccadilly Square London is as much of a global travel ‘must-see’ icon as Table Mountain is. Hundreds and thousands of tourists annually flock to the billboard to bask in it’s neoliberal, rampant hyper-capitalist glow.
But nine months ago the dazzling lights of Piccadilly were turned off so that the billboard could undergo a refurbishment.
Last week the upgraded version was revealed – the billboard is now actually one giant screen and holds the record as Europe’s largest single digital screen. It also has cameras integrated within it using facial recognition technology than can detect the age, gender and mood of the millions of passers by. The billboard then reacts to that data to display ads accordingly.
Coca-Cola, Samsung, Hyundai, L’Oréal Paris, eBay, Hunter and Stella McCartney are now advertising on the newly-launched screen, which is managed by Ocean Outdoor.
There’s of course nothing creepy at all about a public billboard that can monitor the behaviour of passersby. According to the owners, the billboard doesn’t store any data nor does it actively transmit any collected information to any secret underwater lair located somewhere in the middle of the South China Sea.