Imagine this: you walk in a bar and sit down with your friends. Instantly, you get a text message offering you a deal on special drink. You show it to the bartender and he pours you the drink. Does this sound amazing? Well, if you’re in Nashville, this is a reality if you enroll in a facial recognition system called FaceDeals from Georgia startup RedPepper.
Here’s the idea –Facial recognition cameras are installed in bars, restaurants, hotels and other facilities that people frequent. The cameras will match the face of the user to its database and then text him or her a deal based on the user’s Facebook “like” history. If the user has already “liked” the location, he or she will receive a deal on a service.
RedPepper says they created FaceDeals to create an effortless link between check-ins and discounts, arguing that the incentives for a check-in are not enticing enough to take the time. “Facebook check-ins are a powerful mechanism for businesses to deliver discounts to loyal customers, yet few businesses—and fewer customers–have realized it…So we set out to evolve the check-in and sweeten the deal, making both irresistible.” RedPepper is planning to expand to other cities worldwide.
I think these seems like a great idea—I love checking in on Foursquare for bookmarking purposes and occasionally to get a deal, but I am doubtful that this process will catch on, or if it even should.
The idea that your face (and Facebook profile) will be in a database behind the camera, just waiting to be accessed is kind of creepy, even to a social media addict like me. At least I voluntarily check-in to Foursquare. Removing my intention makes the process seem like a bigger invasion of my privacy. It’s true that you have to opt-in to take advantage of FaceDeals, and I doubt that many will. I also feel that those of us that do use location-based services to check in already feel that the process is effortless enough-there is no need to make it simpler.
Many public places already have security cameras installed, but FaceDeals takes things further by actively scanning people’s faces with the purpose of selling to them. Iris scanning is already in use for travel, but the service has since become very unpopular due to machine malfunctions. One wonders if FaceDeals will succumb to similar circumstances as it can be difficult to accurately scan and match.
I’m also not sure I would appreciate the constant bombardment of messages—one of the last things I want to do when I’m out is look at my phone. Will you opt in to FaceDeals? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!