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Uber to track riders’ faces in back of car with tablet cameras

After a year-long delay, Uber Technologies Inc. admitted on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, that hackers stole personal data belonging to 57 million customers and drivers. (Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/TNS)
June 24, 2021

Last week, Uber and Lyft teamed up with a company that specializes in artificial intelligence (AI) to provide 10,000 drivers with digital tablets to track customers’ facial expressions and catalog riders’ information as they react to advertisements.  

Alfi, an AI platform that seeks to deliver “the right content to the right person at the right time in a respectful and ethical manner,” announced its deal with the two apps last week, according to a June 17 press release.  

The deal is part of a larger program in which Alfi gives drivers free tablets with built-in cameras, which will be used to “recognize the demographics of the rider” and display “personalized content as well as advertisements.”

Drivers who participate in the program are promised a revenue share “up to $350” per month if passengers engage with the content or advertisements.

A second press release provided additional details about the program, including Alfi’s use of computer vision to tailor ads “by age, gender, geography, demographics, brand behavior and interests, all in real-time.” The company said the technology can “change and run ads remotely” to immediately adjust content “in a responsible and privacy compliant manner.”

“Alfi provides data rich reporting functionality that informs the advertisers that someone viewed their ad, the number of views, and each viewer’s reaction to the ad. Increasingly, advertisers are demanding improved performance and capabilities from the ad technology they utilize. Alfi delivers for advertisers with analytics, accountability, transparency, proof of engagement and actual impressions,” the company’s press release stated.

“This is only the beginning. We are going to light up every major city in the USA,” said Florentino Diaz, Alfi Project Manager, Accesswire reported. “There is no other choice when it comes to accurate brand targeting and real data reporting. Nobody does this while remaining privacy compliant.”

“We have a massive operation unfolding in Miami today with hundreds of Ubers and Lyfts installing Alfi tablets,” Florentino continued. “It’s an epic event and marks the start of our nationwide rollout. What’s most rewarding, is we can help rideshare drivers increase their income and help create employment opportunities with community outreach programs for students.”

Juan Carlos, a Miami-area Uber driver, said in a statement, “This is a great opportunity for all of us rideshare drivers. Alfi not only gives us extra revenue, but it is a great tool for our customers. We can share places to eat, places to shop, and things to do around Miami. I absolutely love my Alfi!”