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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

These San Francisco Bars Are Streaming Online Footage of You Getting Drunk

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 3:50 PM

COURTESY OF THE EAST BAY EXPRESS
  • Courtesy of the East Bay Express
The East Bay Express had an excellent and eye-opening item this week about an iPhone app called BarSpace.

According to Express writer Ellen Cushing:

Founded by a handful of Sonoma County entrepreneurs, the app, BarSpace, and its related Website, BarSpace.tv, employ a simple concept: Install cameras in bars and nightclubs and then streams that video live through a free iPhone app, as well as through the company's Website. The cameras are installed and paid for by BarSpace; each bar decided the hours between which they'd like to transmit a video stream.

It's ostensibly designed so users can check out the scene at a bar while still at home. Your favorite dive is too crowded? Maybe there's an open table somewhere else. Still, we feel a little creeped out by the entire concept -- especially when we saw how many bars in San Francisco are already streaming live drunks.

Just a few of the nearly 50 watering holes that are participating in the BarSpace app include:

The app developers claim the cameras are mainly placed at high, wide angles, which means individual faces are hard to pick out. Still the idea that some creeper could be watching streaming footage -- however grainy and indistinct -- of us dancing at the Make Out Room after a beer (or seven) gives us the serious heebie-jeebies.

Take a shot while being shot on streaming web video. - MYKL ROVENTINE/FLICKR
  • Mykl Roventine/Flickr
  • Take a shot while being shot on streaming web video.
What's worse, this seems to be part of a growing trend. We recently got a press release for an app called SceneTap, which promises to provide "real-time info on local bars, including the atmosphere, number of people in the bar, male-to-female ratio, and the average age of each customer." How will SceneTap provide all of this information? Cameras using "facial detection and 'people-counting' technologies to automatically collect and provide demographic data on the venue's customers."

And that's just what we're looking when we're trying to relax and act stupid at a bar: decent atmosphere, a good jukebox, and cameras using Big Brotheresque tech to watch us booze.

Cheers to the future, guys. Now, if you'll excuse us, we're going to go drink at home.

You can see a full list of all the bars streaming footage on the next page.
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Jake Swearingen

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