Home Coming To A Bar Near You: Facial Recognition & Real-Time Data

Coming To A Bar Near You: Facial Recognition & Real-Time Data

Facial recognition and detection software is a hot button issue on the Web right now. Facebook has stirred a hornets nest by using facial recognition with users’ pictures, asking people to tag their friends. Google has said that is a line of creepy it will not cross.

Facial detection software is not just limited to the Web though. A new startup in Chicago called SceneTap uses facial detection and people-counting cameras to scope out your local bar to tell you “what is going on.” What is the male-to-female ratio at your favorite club? Who is buying drinks? SceneTap cameras see it all and provide the data to users and bar owners. Seem a little creepy? Maybe not as much as you might think.

SceneTap’s stated goal is to give real-time information into your local bar scene. As such, it is a location-based service that gives you information, deals and social media connections, location information and more. It is kind of like Yelp plus Foursquare plus Groupon with Facebook and Twitter integration, operating in real-time.

According to founder and CEO Cole Harper, the footage collected by SceneTap is not meant to be looked at by anyone. There is a demarcation between “facial detection” and “facial recognition” that SceneTap says it does not cross. The way it works is that there is a camera facing the door of the bar. A person comes in and the camera creates a box around the face, analyzing the eyes, nose and facial structure. It takes that data and scans it through a database to find the most similar type of match. Are you a 25-year-old female? That is what the SceneTap camera is trying to find out.

The cameras are not monitored by people and information is not stored. Bar owners do not have access to the feeds as the stream is encrypted from the backend. SceneTap does technically have access to the visual feed but Harper says that it would only be used for maintenance.

Big Data for Bar Owners for the First Time

The value proposition for bar goers and bar owners is significant. Fundamentally, SceneTap is trying to bring big data on a granular level to the restaurant industry. It analyzes what type of people are coming in, what they are buying and when they come and go. That information can be cross-referenced with promotions, advertisements and on-site staff (does Bartender A bring in more male patrons than Bartender B, for instance).

This is not the type of information that restaurants and bars have ever had access to. Even with the most sophisticated point-of-sale systems, the ability to have specific gender-related data on a timeline that can be studied over a period of time is not available. Yet, add SceneTap data with the POS system and all of a sudden restaurant owners know everything about their clientele.

For bar goers, it provides real-time information to help you decide where you are going. Is Bartender A working? How many girls are there and how old are they?

SceneTap will launch in Chicago in the middle of July and have partners in select cities across the country shortly thereafter including New York, Boston, Miami, Austin, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Diego and Las Vegas.

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