WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A new company is offering ride-hail drivers digital ad tablets that use computer vision to “recognize the demographics of the rider”.
- The ad tablets claim to run ads tailored for each passenger.
- The company is promising to give revenue share to drivers if riders engage with the ads or content.
A company called Alfi is planning to give Uber and Lyft drivers 10,000 digital ad tablets with cameras.
The company describes itself as an “AI enterprise SaaS platform company powering computer vision with machine learning models.” It offered a deal to Uber and Lyft to provide its drivers with a free tablet that claims to use computer vision to “recognize the demographics of the rider” and provide them “personalized content as well as advertisements.”
Alfi says it’s giving drivers a revenue share of “up to $350” if passengers engage with the ads or content.
According to a press release by Alfi, they use computer vision to tailor the ads according to a passenger’s age, gender, geography, demographics, interests, and brand behavior. The tablet “informs the advertisers that someone viewed their ad, the number of views, and each viewer’s reaction to the ad.” As per the release, “hundreds” of Ubers and Lyfts in Miami are already using the tablets.
Alfi’s website says their algorithm tracks “small facial cues,” while on his LinkedIn, Alfi’s chief revenue officer reveals that Alfi uses computer vision for facial recognition. But Alfi says it is compliant with the European GDPR privacy law, and it “respects user privacy; without tracking, storing cookies, or using identifiable personal information.”
In one presentation, Paul Pereira, chief executive of Alfi explained how the technology works: “Imagine with me that you are a 25 year old female wearing Gucci sunglasses and you’re walking through an airport and the content of every kiosk or every digital screen you see is specifically curated for you. So instead of seeing ads for retirement homes or ads for wheelchairs—which are not really relevant to you as a 25 year old female—instead what you’re seeing are lady’s fashionable wear and designer sunglasses specifically curated for you.”
Uber, Lyft, and Alfi have yet to respond to requests for comments.
Extra income for drivers is always welcome, especially when these days that drivers are having a hard time making ends meet due to insufficient incentives from their companies. Alfi is taking advantage of the anticipated increase in demand for ride-hails to accelerate its growth.
But whether or not Alfi’s technology works, it’s apparent that they are trying to profit from the issues faced by ride-hail drivers. In the U.S, ride-hail companies are increasing prices without increasing drivers’ salaries. Likewise, the incentives received by drivers have been insufficient to help them make ends meet, or attract more workers.