SceneTap-Controversial facial detection app monitors bar-hoppers

By: DiversityHuman in Technology

SceneTap-Controversial facial detection application for partygoers

scenetap-face-recognition.PNGSan Francisco, CA - Scenetap's anonymous "facial detection" app receives raging negative criticisms from various bar-hoppers. The new technology scans the faces of bar-goers to determine the venue's current 'scene'. This was initially rolled out in 25 local bars in 6 cities including Chicago and Austin.

App details

The SceneTap Apple and Android apps gather information to provide SceneTap app users a specific, real-time data set on bar patrons from the cameras that SceneTap has installed in participating bars and clubs. SceneTap application snaps your photo as you walk into the venue and relays taken pictures which are mapped onto a grid. An algorithm then matches the facial dimensions to a database of averages for age and gender to make a match with a high degree of accuracy. An iPhone app is used to see whether the mix is to their liking.

Scenetap claims that the app doesn't identify people personally, but examines features like the distance between the eyes, nose, ears, jaw, mouth and overall face shape, forehead and skeletal structure to judge your age and gender. However app users will not be able to look at the photos individually.

“In a certain sense, it’s trying to find your look-alike in an anonymous database.” CEO Cole Harper explains, “It almost takes your face and creates a grid, matching general facial features to males or females, before determining how old you are.”

SceneTap says it deletes the photos as soon as they're snapped and that the sensors are not sophisticated enough to identify individual faces in the way Facebook does and iPhoto attempts to.

A lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which focuses on surveillance technology and privacy, said the threat to privacy from an app like SceneTap depended not just on what was being stored but how easily the system could be converted to become more intrusive, whether by a hacker or under a court order.

The head of developer SceneTap, Cole Harper, has responded the criticisms. "Nothing that we do is collecting personal information,” he said. “It's not recorded, it's not streamed, it's not individualized.”

SceneTap claims to have already tracked over 8.5 million people.

Sources: zdnet, ,, the official site of scenetap


Since there is a realtime overview especially the percentage of women in the bar or club venue, this gives a better picture of the possible prey-men and women but most of the time it would be the ladies who becomes the prey or target. If someone wants to have a higher chance of meeting a lady then all you have to do is to check the statistics. The greater the number of ladies and the lower number of men or other competitors, the greater the chance of hitting a target.

This could also be an invasion to privacy. Come to think of this, in mid 90's if someone captures a picture and brings it to a local government agency, it would be hard to get details of that person's identity. But now due to the advance technology if you have a photo and you give it to a local crime investigators, they can use that photo and have it compared to an existing database of images and find a match which is exactly the same idea of what Scenetap has applied in their algorithm. If the figure above is true then Scenetap has millions of pictures that equates to millions of stolen identities which can be distributed anytime in exchange of MONEY. I mean in the business world, money matters. Because of consumerism, Scenetap could earn a multi-million dollar business from these images in the future.

I am not against this but what I am afraid of is the potential abuse of this technology.




Posted by on 22 May 2012

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