A suspiciously FBI-friendly upgrade to FourSquare is making its debut in Chicago this Friday: It's called SceneTap, and it uses an overhead camera to count the number of people entering and exiting a bar.
A second, more advanced camera then scans patrons' faces to determine the age and gender of each. "Unlike FourSquare," reads the press release, "SceneTap doesn't require check-ins." Translation: There's no way to opt-out.
And SceneTap spokesman Andrew Cross assures us it will only be a matter of time before the cameras inundate the L.A. nightlife scene, as well. On top of the 50 participating bars in Chicago, hundreds more have either signed contracts or expressed interest nationwide. "I know for a fact [the cameras] will be in L.A." ...
the a year, he says. (As if the L.A. bar circuit weren't segregated and predictable enough -- UCLA gentry at Q's Billiards, randy hipsters at El Cid, Esquire assholes at Seven Grand. Etcetera.)
Anyway. We can see SceneTap's imminent West Coast debut going one of three ways:
1. South. Nobody gets around to downloading it, only the lame bars sign up for it, boys and girls continue getting down the old-fashioned way -- like they're thrift-store shopping with beer goggles in the dark. Instructional video here.
2. Pleasantly. SceneTap helps steer douches from douchepacks and sausages from sausagefests, giving us girls a break and ever-so-slightly increasing their slim chances of getting one of us drunk enough to take home. Or at least make out with on the smoking patio. (Because let's be honest: This app is for dudes. Or maybe lesbians trying to avoid the bulk of the Boystown stink for a fairer West Hollywood refuge. But mostly dudes.)
3. To the depths of Dr. Frankstein's lair. The app upgrades! to include race, hotness, weight, hair color, slut factor (based on length of miniskirt), etc. And what if there's a barfight or something? What's to stop the LAPD or the feds from demanding some top-notch surveillance footage and having their way with it?
On the phone today, SceneTap spokesman Cross tries to qualm our fears by telling us there will be no record of the video, and everything will be very private and low-key, and blah blah. But we just... don't know who to trust anymore. Isn't that, like, exactly what Zuckerberg said?
More on how the app's technology works, via Fast Company:
SceneTap looks at a variety of characteristics to determine gender and age: the nose, the eyes, the jaw structure, mouth and overall face shape, forehead and skeletal structure. "It almost takes your face and creates a grid, matching general facial features to males or females, before determining how old you are," [CEO Cole Harper] explains. "In a certain sense, it's trying to find your look-alike in an anonymous database."
Based on tests, SceneTap is anywhere from 85% to 98% accuracate when totaling the amount of patrons entering or leaving a bar; it is 85% accurate in determining gender; and is 90% accurate when determining age on a range of +/-6 years, and 80% on a scale of +/-3 years.
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Harper stressed the difference between facial recognition software (a la "Minority Report") and facial detection software -- the former is able to ID you, while the latter only puts you in a category. (Also kind of depressing. But yeah.)
Still -- the FBI has been known to start small, on helpess demographics like criminal aliens (and now drunk horndogs?), snooping social media and enlisting lesser agencies in their quest to compile a giant database of all our biometric data.
OK, sorry, we sound like total kooks at this point. Go get some, Chicago. And SceneTap: This superficial para-douche out West awaits your creepy homecoming.