SceneTap’s new location-based app tracks attendance, gender and more at bars and clubs in real-time.
Heading out for a night on the town? Chicago based startup SceneTap is looking to streamline the process of finding the perfect hotspot. Using “facial detection” software SceneTap tracks which bars and clubs have the most patrons and — more importantly — which have a favourable male-to-female ratio. Launching this month, SceneTap’s iOS and Android apps will provide users with real-time snapshot of what the demographics are at participating locations on any given night.
SceneTap will initially cover 50 bars in popular neighborhoods of Chicago, each of which will have a system installed with the ability to detect the number of patrons, their gender, age and more. This is accomplished using software which can detect human faces in video; many point-and-shoot digital cameras use similar algorithms in order to focus properly. Faces are then compared against a database in an attempt to determine the sex and age of the subject; are you a 25-year-old female? All of this valuable data is then combined and further analyzed to provide information such as the male-to-female ratio, the average age of patrons, who’s buying drinks and which bartender they prefer.
“This is going to change the way the bar industry runs” -Cole Harper, CEO, SceneTap
Even though it’s arriving hot on the heels of Facebook’s implementation of facial recognition, there’s a major difference between Facebook’s and SceneTap’s technology — SceneTap is anonymous. According to the company, there is no attempt to identify individuals (an activity known as “facial recognition”), but rather to discern gender, age and location within the establishment. These types of algorithms are referred to as “facial detection”, a subtle difference — but an important one. The distinction between these two terms revolves around identity; everything else about an individual is fair game as far as SceneTap is concerned.
For users the app is free; the company plans to make the bulk of its money via advertising and Groupon-like coupons. SceneTap will launch in Chicago in the middle of July and have partners in select cities across the U.S. shortly thereafter including New York, Boston, Miami, Austin, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Diego and Las Vegas.
Slippery slopes and privacy concerns aside, I have to agree with the CEO — this is going to change the way the bar industry runs. The data this type of system could provide is unheard of in the industry. Aside from what’s already been mentioned, the potential is staggering — how many patrons left during a specific song? Or right after a particular promotion expired? How many patrons are dancing versus lounging? Are opposite sexes mingling? Are same sexes mingling? From an owner’s perspective adding a system like this seems like a no-brainer. For patrons there’s a new dilemma, do you head to the place where SceneTap says there’s a great gal-to-guy (or guy-to-gal) ratio or the opposite because everyone else is listening to SceneTap?
Do you think this use of facial detection will be beneficial or harmful to the public?