How is facial recognition technology used for admission control at trade fairs and events?

How would you like to go straight into an exhibition hall or event venue without first having to get out your mobile phone, look for your ticket or spell your name? Does that sound inconceivable? It’s actually perfectly possible, as a recently launched solution for events shows: this brand-new application uses automatic facial recognition technology that is perfect for trade fairs, prestigious B2B events or VIP events. After all, executives would much rather simply walk into a venue rather than first rummage around in their mobile phone to find their QR code. And trade fair visitors would clearly welcome it too if they could just walk straight in instead of having to stand around in a queue.

Photo: Dr. Michael Liebmann

Dr. Michael Liebmann 
Managing director of Munich-based company doo

But how does an automated facial recognition-based admission system work in practice at trade fairs and events? In tandem with Bonn-based company Fastlane, we at doo have launched such an application. This is how it works: when participants register for an event in advance, they simply upload a photograph of themselves. Conveniently, they can also use photographs from LinkedIn or Xing. At the entrance to the trade fair or event, the facial recognition system then identifies the participants in real time. A biometric algorithm permits immediate identification based on the particular features of an individual’s face. Trade fair visitors or event participants don’t have to produce any documents by way of verification or even stand still. In addition, a badge printer or admission kiosk can be connected to the camera to provide people with a name badge immediately. They can then just go straight in to the venue. 

The benefits of the technology become particularly clear when up to 1,000 people need to get into an event at the same time. We know of no faster admission system currently available on the market. In addition to saving participants a lot of time, the system also benefits event organisers in two ways: it puts their participants in a better mood because they haven’t had to wait to get in, and it also saves organisers money, because they need fewer staff and admission kiosks. In addition, admission is restricted to the person who originally registered for the event. It is just about impossible for anyone else to cheat their way in or make use of false ID. That is why this form of delegate identification plays a significant role at security conferences, for example. 

We are still in the early days of using this technology, but there are huge opportunities: the “journey” taken by individuals through an event – from admission, to the workshops and panel discussions they attend and finally to the exit – can be recorded much more easily using a facial recognition system. And not only does it eliminate the need for session scans and the tiresome showing of badges at entrances and exits; our technology also gives the organiser precise data that can be used to personalise the event and make it more successful in future. Facial recognition can also be integrated seamlessly into the doo event CRM system, where all data is stored centrally.

The technology can recognise a person immediately by identifying their facial features. (Photo: Bits and Splits/
The technology can recognise a person immediately by identifying their facial features. (Photo: Bits and Splits/

Data protection
Many people are increasingly concerned that any data they may have provided will be used to their disadvantage by third parties. Our experience with the application in practice has been very positive so far. Participants like using the facial recognition system, and many people want to try it out. However, we do recommend taking a proactive approach to informing event participants about the system. We always make it very clear to them what happens to their data. Accompanying measures like this significantly increase the acceptance of the application and overcome any prejudices or concerns people may have. Nevertheless, it is important that there should always be another option available to participants who are still sceptical about the application despite having everything explained to them. Whenever facial recognition is not mandatory for an event, which it may be for security reasons, for example, we offer a conventional admission option as well.

doo presented its facial recognition system for the first time in Germany in January 2018: at Best of Events International, the largest German trade fair for event and experiential marketing.

This article was published in TFI issue 1/2018


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