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The Future of: Facial Recognition Technology in Events

The facial recognition industry is anticipated to be worth $19 billion by 2025, compared to it only being worth $7 billion in 2019. This huge growth should be taken notice of by event organisers, as it may be used more frequently in events as time goes on.


A man's face is scanned and processed by facial recognition technology

What is Facial Recognition Technology?


Facial recognition technology is biometric software that analyses data from photos in order to track, record and store someone’s facial features. It translates this data into a “facial fingerprint” algorithm for identification purposes.

A man at the entrance to an event prepares the check-in process.

Checking In With Facial Recognition Technology


Especially as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic, contactless check-ins are required by most responsible event organisers. However, even email receipts are quite bothersome, as attendees have to find a signal and scroll through their emails or screenshots to get to them. Attendees also might struggle to remember to bring identification.


Facial recognition technology can avoid these stressful check-in experiences as all that is required is a quick facial scan. Attendees who consent to submitting a photo during registration, can scan their faces as they check into your events. They can then be let in after the machine recognises them.


Therefore, such technology is becoming preferred by event organisers to prevent attendees from already having impatient impressions of their events.


A group of people sit in a circular panel discussion surrounded by an audience, with screens behind them

The Use of Facial Recognition at Hybrid Events


Not many event organisers are aware of this, but the use of facial recognition technology need not stop at the check-in process. It can also be used at online or hybrid events to add value to online attendees who are viewing via a livestream or prerecorded video.


One use of this technology, is to allow viewers to skim your event video for sections that feature the faces of specific speakers. This can help them easily access the most important or relevant information to them, allowing for optimal knowledge dissemination.


Therefore, as this technology becomes more normalised in the events industry, it’s starting to be used not just for attendees, but also for speakers.


Furthermore, such technology can make events more accessible. It can recognise speakers’ faces at each timestamp, and be utilised with automated text-to-speech technology to include the names of whichever speaker is currently talking. This can provide accurate transcripts, so that the knowledge of the event can be utilised years after it has taken place.


If you don’t yet livestream or record your events, and so can’t use such technology for your events, contact CPD Online here. We can livestream and/or produce bespoke recordings of your next event(s).


Such technology also opens the doors for other techniques; you can also use it to interact with your in-person attendees by utilising emotional recognition. This can gather data on your audience’s emotional reactions to each session in your event, giving you a whole new metric for measuring event satisfaction.


Safety Concerns


With growing usage of facial recognition technology, and even people’s iPhones coming with Face ID features as standard as of the release of the iPhone X in 2017, the public are surprisingly more and more receptive to using such technology. This is in spite of the inevitable concerns people may have with the process of having their “facial fingerprint” recorded.


This was evidenced at conferences held by real estate company Keller Williams. The first time they used this technology, only 45% of their audiences opted in to have their facial features to be stored for facial recognition. By their fifth event, over 68% of their audience opted in to this. This was an increase of over 50%.


This may suggest that, as time goes on and facial recognition technology is used more frequently, event attendees will be more accepting of using it. The future of this technology will probably see it exponentially increase in use.


On the other hand, as more people learn about the common usage of such technology, this does allow for more people to read about potential problems and air their concerns about this technology. It would require attendees to submit a photo of their face as they RSVP to your invitation, which may naturally feel invasive.


Some people are concerned about how this technology could be abused to track people without their consent, starting with tracking what shops they visit to understand how to market certain products or services in a more targeted and invasive way.


However, increased government regulations restricting how this technology can be used should give the public peace of mind. Therefore, it’s been recommended that businesses developing applications that use such technology should be more thorough in defining the boundaries of what the technology should be used for, privacy policies, and their communications with consumers.


As more companies follow suit in this and do their part, we expect facial recognition technology to be used at events in a safe and responsible manner. The more its usage is normalised, the safer people will feel in opting in to use it.


Additionally, it’s worth reminding attendees that facial recognition can actually improve security and safety as opposed to damage it. Allowing them to check into your event with a facial scan can prevent the likelihood of someone else stealing their identification or ticket.


Overall:


If you’re an event organiser considering using facial recognition technology at your events, and you’re concerned about whether or not it’s being picked up, we recommend that you do not worry.


As long as you do the following, your audiences will accept the usage of this technology due to its increased adoption:


• Invest in cybersecurity backups

• Carry out a full review of your technology provider to ensure that all necessary precautions have been taken

• Make sure all attendees are fully aware that once they submit their photo, your database won’t store it; it only stores the “facial fingerprint” that it’s converted into.


Remember: this still isn’t a standard technology and therefore you still need to allow attendees to choose to opt-in over the course of your event programme as opposed to expecting or demanding an immediately high rate.

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