James H. Burnett III reports that what seems like it might be a useful app right now has the potential to privacy-invasive.
The app is from SceneTap, and it can tell you how crowded a nightclub is, the ratio of men to women inside, and even the average age of the crowd. But Burnett reports:
But SceneTap could one day have the capability to do a lot more. That’s making some people so nervous that when SceneTap launched last spring in San Francisco, it sparked outrage and forced the chief executive to issue a letter to quell the anger. At the heart of the issue is privacy, something Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others have learned can incite the masses when mishandled.
SceneTap gathers data by collecting images from what is called a facial detection reader inside the bars. It locks in on a silhouette from the neck up and measures 14 data points on the featureless face, determining within seconds whether the subject is male or female and the person’s approximate age. It’s not facial recognition, like the picture-taking technology used at airports. But because SceneTap’s patent application includes language about facial recognition, some critics worry it’s only a matter of time before the company tries to collect more detailed information.
Read more on Boston Globe.
Thanks to Joe Cadillic for the link.