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Monday, May 14, 2012

San Francisco Bars to Install Creepy Facial Detection Cameras Inside Venues

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Shots of you doing shots
  • Shots of you doing shots
Update May 16: Leilani Brennan, owner and operator of Eve Lounge, claims she had talked with SceneTap about the technology, but has no plans to use the cameras.

UPDATE: Read our Q&A with SceneTap's CEO explaining the technology.

Last year, San Franciscans were pretty freaked out when they learned that some of their favorite watering holes had installed cameras and were live-streaming footage of them taking one too many shots of Patrón. To add to an already sinister Friday night, local bars have decided to go ahead keep tabs on you via facial recognition technology.

SceneTap, the Austin-based nightlife startup, is officially launching its facial detection software at 25 bars in San Francisco on Friday, including Mr. Smith's and Pete's Tavern. Using a free iPhone or Android App, you can get a snapshot of the San Francisco bar scene, including male-to-female ratio, average age, and crowd size -- all in real time. In short, you can find out if there are enough women to hit on before you bother getting decked out for the night.

So here's how it works, according to SceneTap: Bars place special facial detection cameras inside venues, which pick up on facial characteristics to determine approximate age and gender of the bar crowd. All your personal information remains anonymous, and nothing about you or your face is stored long-term.

Venue owners have their own stake in it. They will have access to this aggregated demographic information, and over time they can use it to measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. In other words, did that ladies-drink-free special actually draw more women to the bar?

SceneTap is already up and running in a half-dozen other cities, and to date, the company's cameras have tracked more than 8.5 million people in bars and restaurants in these cities. In any event, here's a list of the bars that will be watching you, according to SceneTap:

  • Bamboo Hut
  • Bar None
  • Eastside West
  • Eve Lounge
  • Fluid Ultra Lounge
  • HiFi
  • John Colins
  • Kozy Kar Bar
  • Manor West
  • Mayes Oyster House
  • McTeague's Saloon
  • Milk Bar
  • Monaghan's
  • Mr. Smith's
  • Noble
  • Polo Grounds
  • R Bar
  • Southpaw
  • Taverna Aventine
  • The Ambassador
  • The Wreck Room
  • Tope

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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