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Facedeals software scans your face, offers personalized deals via phone as you shop

Jordana Divon
Shine On
August 16, 2012

Imagine walking into a random clothing store and before you even hit the sales rack, your smartphone pings with a series of personalized deals and special offers.

Facedeals is a new marketing app from a company called Red Pepper that uses facial recognition cameras to scan your face as you walk by a participating shop.

As soon as the system makes a verified match, it will check in to your Facebook account and mine it for your "likes" -- which are then used to create deals specific to your interests.

Now just in case you've started seeing flashes of Minority Report — the Tom Cruise film featuring one of the creepiest mall scenes — know that Big Brother hasn't infiltrated the retail world yet. Facedeals is still in its testing stages and will likely be released under a different name.

As well, you have to opt into the service through Facebook and set up your own Facedeals account first, in order to receive any deals.

Also see: Clothing rental service lets you borrow and return clothes

"For businesses, there is no easier way to deliver customized deals. Users receive personalized offers simply by coming through the door, which removes the guesswork typically performed by both parties," the company writes on its website.

"Businesses will no longer wonder which offers will stick. Patrons will no longer plan outings with a deal-a-day mindset, but can simply frequent their favorite spots and count on being rewarded."

Red Pepper's hometown of Nashville, Tennessee is serving as its testing market, but the company has revealed plans to expand into other key cities soon.

Based on the volume of Facebook users who already share their whereabouts using check-in apps like FourSquare, one can imagine that this type of personalized shopping experience would appeal to folks who have no issue disclosing their private information.

In fact, as the Ottawa Citizen reports, a study from research group SAS Canada shows 46 per cent of Canadians would be willing to reveal personal information if it meant access to personalized discounts and deals.

Also see: Model sues Volvo for salacious advertisements

That hasn't stopped the inevitable chorus of criticism and concern.

Ontario's information and privacy minister, Ann Cavoukian, is warning Canadians about opting into something like Facedeals blindly.

"You don't know where the information is going to end up and I always say, 'beware of unintended consequences,' " she tells the Citizen.

"They haven't said anything about their security practices or how they are going to restrict the use of this data. Will they share it with other companies? Sell it? What are they going to do with this very valuable information? These are huge questions."

One of the huge questions Cavoukian raises pertains to the law. If a business gets targeted for a crime, for instance, Facedeals would automatically provide police with a built-in database of potential witnesses or suspects.

"All of a sudden you don't need to go to an FBI database to find out who this picture belongs to, you can just go to Facebook," she cautions.

Also see: Supermodels in Olympics closing ceremonies sets off Twitter firestorm about healthy role models

Red Pepper's CEO has anticipated these concerns and appears to have an answer at the ready.

Tim McMullen tells Fox News you'll just have to trust the company's good intentions.

"We're not actually going to be pulling all of the data," he says. "It's like, allow this app, and that is essentially saying that we can have access to your network and I think that's sort of … a comfort line that people are moving towards as long as that information is not misused."

Would this personalized shopping experience appeal to you or is it the first step toward the privacy apocalypse?

Watch the video below for some back-to-school fashion trends.

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