Face scanning could replace tickets


New technology could make going to a concert or ballgame much easier and cheaper, but it is also kind of scary. Recently, Ticketmaster and its parent Live Nation announced an investment in an Austin company called Blink Identity, which is developing facial-recognition technology. The idea is to match people's tickets to their faces, allowing them to walk right in to a venue rather than waiting to scan a ticket. It sounds great for cracking down on scalpers and speeding up long lines to get into events, but it also raises major privacy concerns - like where would all the cameras be and how would Ticketmaster store all of its customers' faces.

In a recent online documentary for the Economist, technology consultant Hal Hodson explains the rapid development and expansion of facial recognition. "There has been a huge amount of progress in the underlying technology known as machine learning, and what that allows you to do is pull a very accurate face print out of a photograph that uniquely identifies a person," he says.

The facial recognition revolution took another big step with last year's release of the iPhone X, which uses facial scans to identify users. "By next year there will be millions of those devices out in the world, and we're going to get used to unlocking our phone (with our face), then we'll start getting used to getting into our banking apps with face recognition, and it's going to start feeling normal," says Hodson.

Hodson notes that this type of technology is already more widely utilized in China. "They are using it to let people pay in fast food restaurants, and to access theme parks without having to buy a ticket," he says. Here in America, companies are even using it to find lost pets.

There is no timetable for when Ticketmaster will roll out "face tickets," as the technology is still in the developmental stages.


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