Controversial App Scans Faces of Bar Customers

Idea is to help people pick locales, but critics see it as a stalker app
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2012 4:20 PM CDT
Controversial App Scans Faces of Bar Customers
An artist's demonstration of SceneTap's facial detection cameras in a bar.   (

A new app designed to enhance a user's bar-hopping has tipplers raising a stink over privacy concerns, and the Week offers an overview: SceneTap works by syncing up with cameras installed inside bars in various cities. The cameras use facial-detection software to scan the crowd, determine the genders and ages of the patrons, and report back to the app. In theory, this would allow the app user to figure out the best bar to head to, but many people are slamming SceneTap as creepy and an invasion of privacy.

Blogger Violet Blue at ZDNet, for example, calls SceneTap a "bro-app" that will merely help "bro-tards" zero in on the bars "with the most chicks in them," which is "sure to make women feel a little more like hunted prey." A few bars backed out of the launch in San Francisco after receiving complaints. SceneTap's CEO says the facial information is not collected. "It's not recorded, it's not streamed, it's not individualized," he says, though critics think the app and others sure to follow are at the top of a slippery slope. Click for more on the app. (More SceneTap stories.)

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