Facial recognition software allows comedy club to charge by the laugh
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After government taxation on theater ticket prices rose drastically, a comedy club created a new way to get audience members to attend shows: charge only by the laugh


Following the Spanish government’s decision to raise the tax on theater tickets from a mere 8% to a more than double 21%, performance venues in Spain began to see a significant drop in ticket sales. To combat the hit in sales, one comedy club partnered with The Cyranos McCann advertising agency to launch a “pay per laugh” ticketing format that only requires patrons to pay if they laugh.

In April, the Teatreneu Club in Barcelona experimented with this new ticket format, where the audience is monitored with facial recognition software — by way of iPads installed on the backs of each seat — and only pay if they enjoy the show.

According to the BBC, the ticket formatting goes something like this: Each laugh is charged at 0.30 euros ($0.38) with a cap, or maximum ticket price, of 24 euros ($30.45). So, instead of “you get what you paid for,” you actually pay for what you got? Or something like that.

One chuckle, two giggles, and a snort later

Though the pay-as-you-laugh method is seemingly odd, it has caught on. Additional theaters in Spain have started testing out the Teatreneu club’s ticketing style and it appears to be succeeding. They have even rolled out an app that connects with the platform, which allows theater goers to share their laughs on social networks.

However popular it has become in Spain, it remains to be seen whether or not the rest of the world will adopt this futuristic method of ticketing. Many remain skeptical about the consequences of implementing such an info gathering type of program.

“Sounds fun,” James Woroniecki, director of London’s 99 Club, told the BBC, “just so long as all the facial recognition data doesn’t get forwarded to the NSA.”

“It’d be a big technical challenge – as people laugh so often at the 99 we’d have to install a cash machine by every seat,” he went on to comment.

To date, the Teatreneu club has seen positive results after its implementation of the facial recognition software for ticketing. The theater claims that overall ticket prices in their venue have increased by 6 euros.

How it compares to the current facial recognition market

A comedy club using facial recognition to see if you’re enjoying the show may sound strange, but perhaps that’s only because it’s one of the first times this type of software has been used in such an up-front, for the customer, type of way.

Until now we’ve seen facial recognition used for internet searches and other clever purposes: police departments identifying people with B12 Technology‘s MORIS; scientists monitoring certain chimps in the wild; taking photos of leaves to learn more about them; and of course Facebook’s creepy ability to recognize you and all your friends in photos, to name a few.

The strangest use of this technology has to be a now defunct dating website called findyourfacematch.com that allowed you to find matches based on how much you looked alike — because dating someone that looks like your sibling is totally hot.

So yes, facial recognition software has been used for a while, but never to track laughter. Hopefully Teatreneu club’s clever idea will go over better than that sibling-love-fest site.

For some laughs of your own — and a titbit of vulgar language — check out this ad for Teatreneu, from The Cyranos for McCann:

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Leilani Rose

About Leilani Rose

An accomplished and savvy writer with a background editing and developing both print and online content. Leilani is an artist at heart, with a passion for life and discovering unique
things in the world. “Yes” often leads to great adventures.

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