Forgot Your ID? The Bar Knows How Old You Are

If you have a smartphone, you may have heard about the new app that lets bar patrons scan people's faces when they walk in the door.

SceneTap, which came out this month, can scan your face and then guess your age and gender. So far, only about 25 bars in the San Francisco area are using it. But if you download the app and walk into one of the 25 bars, you can check your phone for real-time updates on how many people are at the bar. The app will tell you how old they are and how many men and women are there.

How does it work?

SceneTap's creators say they rely on advanced biometrics. Bars that use the app have cameras at their doors that take your photos. The software gets your photo and "maps your face on a grid." The app then uses an algorithm to match the dimensions on your face to a database that lists the average ages and genders of everyone else at the bar.

It sounds like a cool idea, but some people say it invades their privacy. In fact, some think it's just plain creepy.

SceneTap disagrees, arguing that it doesn't invade privacy because it doesn't record anyone's names or personal information.

It's not a completely new concept. Facebook has been using facial recognition to try to name who is photos. Apple also uses it on their iPhones.

So why does it make people nervous?

If you know the software is advanced enough to take your picture and tell your age and gender, how do you know it can't figure out your name, who you are or where you live?

Facial recognition isn't going away tomorrow. Over time, it will only become more advanced or transition into something totally new.

Social media has made facial recognition easier, Electronic Fronteir Foundation staff attorney Lee Tien told the Associated Press.

"Ten years ago if I walked down the street and took a picture of someone I didn't know, there was little I could do to find out who that person was," Tien told the AP. "Today it's a very different story."

Tien said facial recognition is like the computerized version of fingerprints.

Sound scary?

As technology advances and privacy concerns increase, what will happen next? Will we eventually become more comfortable with this kind of technology? Will our need for privacy decrease as time goes on?

In a few years, we probably even flinch when we think about facial recognition. We'll just accept it for what it is and feel nervous about the newest trend.

Read the original article here.


Posted by Ariel Brouillard on May 23, 2012

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