Facial recognition aims to analyze bar crowds

Last summer, an iPhone app known as BarSpace began causing a stir when it was announced that various bars in the San Francisco Bay Area were using it to offer live streams of their establishments. While the idea behind it is to let party-goers check in on a place before heading out to determine how busy it is, many were upset by what has been deemed as another invasion of privacy.

Now, nearly a year later, there is an add-on to this kind of technology: an app known as SceneTap. The app, which already exists in major cities like Austin and Chicago, will be unveiled this weekend in San Francisco at 25 different bars, something which has many regular bar patrons outraged at all the potential violations of privacy involved.

Essentially, the program works by using facial detection cameras in the bars and venues. The cameras then rely upon their programmed algorithms to estimate the age and gender of each individual, and report that information. But how it is used depends upon the person.

To many, this application seems harmless, because it allows users to scope out a bar before going. Perhaps the average bar-goer will find this beneficial, because it allows him or her to determine just how crowded a place is, and if it consists of an age-appropriate crowd, et cetera. However, like any information, it can be misused.

As for the actual business owners, in finding out the male-to-female ratio, average age and size of a crowd, they are opening up new ways of analyzing their patron base and potentially changing the face of personal marketing.

What about you? Would you want to frequent a bar with this kind of technology? Why or why not? And if you were a business owner, how might something like SceneTap help you?