Mark Cuban recently blogged about his investment in a company that takes video of an area and can tell you exactly how many people are in the capture area at any given time. Initially, cameras are being posted and tested in certain environments where anonymity is required; correspondingly, the service won’t capture faces or anything that could identify an individual. The end use and application is simply to provide incredibly accurate traffic information and patterns that could help institutions, city/urban planners and airports amongst others.
According to Cuban, the next extension is to install the software in places where facial recognition software can be added. What this means for both individuals and brick and mortar businesses like restaurants, lounges and retailers is that – rather than having to use you a location based app to check-in – the business would already know you’re there. The store/host recognizes you are there and rewards you for allowing your identity and information to be captured and linked.
While potential implications include privacy issues, the need to ultimately provide opt-in/out flexibility, Facebook/Twitter integration, and micro-targeting capabilities for brands/retailers, these implications don’t differ significantly from those still being tweaked in the move towards a more integrated location-based social media landscape overall. We’re also not convinced that this foreshadows the death of location-based applications – while you may not need to ‘check in’ yourself in this ideal future, you may still depend on that application to inform you of where your friends/family are. It may render the location-based service less useful for a brand to target their customers if another tool does this automatically – but it won’t render it useless for the individual.