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Is facial recognition ready for the big time?

by Nicola Macdonald

Brecht Fourneau, senior director – EMEA marketing for cloud-based event management software company Aventri, looks at three top trends in facial recognition for events.

Is facial recognition ready for prime time at events?

My Aventri colleague Ivan Lazarev, global head of experiential solutions, thinks so: “The technology holds tremendous promise for trade shows and events. We’ve validated dozens of facial recognition engines, some with excellent results, others with problems.

“The key to success is to match up three essentials: great cameras and lighting, processing power and facial recognition engine.”

As this innovative technology gains traction in our personal and professional lives, attendees will start expecting it at events.

So, I’d like to point out three big trends and explain how to reap the benefits and avoid the unique challenges of facial recognition for events.

Enhanced check-in.

State-of-the-art facial recognition is the fastest way to check in at events. Self-service check-in has been around a while. Now, facial recognition levels up the experience. The latest systems greet the attendee by name, verify registration and print out a badge. The entire process takes about nine seconds flat, including issuance of a personalised paper badge.

No more barcodes, confirmation IDs and waiting in queues at the entrance. You’ll treat attendees like VIPs when they get a personalised greeting and breeze right in.

TIP: Facial recognition relies on attendees providing a photo during online registration. It’s essential to make posting a photo optional. Be sure your technology doesn’t store the image, but only uses it to create a digital signature for the event. Let attendees know this, and explain a photo will make onsite check-in smoother. From Facebook and Amazon, people understand they get a better user experience if they provide some information. So, expect facial recognition check-in to resonate with attendees.

More powerful security.

As face recognition evolves, it offers great potential to improve event security. The technology works in a few seconds even in a crowded, fast-changing setting. No wonder major sports stadiums have started deploying it at the main entrance.

Facial recognition can work successfully with perimeter access control systems at large-scale events. For example, organisers saw great success in February pairing facial recognition with smart badges to bolster security at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona.

TIP: Make security robust but unobtrusive. Use advanced technology to help ensure only registered attendees gain access without making them feel they have cause for concern.

New take on real-time feedback.

Facial expressions, especially ‘microexpressions’, provide a window to a person’s emotions. Microexpressions are involuntary expressions, often lasting just 1/15 of a second. Unlike more prolonged facial expressions, they’re difficult to fake. That’s why marketers analyse microexpressions to better understand customers.

When using any type of facial recognition, be keenly aware of privacy issues and GDPR compliance. Everything you do needs participants’ consent.

TIP: Pair this technology with gamification to ensure participation is voluntary. When you combine facial recognition with an easy opt-in and fun experience, everyone wins. Attendees who choose to can enjoy an engaging activity. And organisers get real-time, data-driven feedback to help gauge the mood at their event.

Once again, facial recognition holds great promise for our industry. Consider these tactics and trends. You’ll deliver a cutting-edge experience; increase engagement… and give attendee satisfaction a boost.

This article originally appeared in Exhibition World. 

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