Ticketmaster invests in facial recognition technology company

The military grade software hopes to make the concert experience easier, but could cost customers' their privacy

Ticketmaster invests in Blink Identity's facial recognition technology
Ticketmaster invests in Blink Identity’s facial recognition technology

    Ticketmaster and Live Nation — together known as Live Nation Entertainment — have invested money in a new facial recognition company called Blink Identity, according to a report from The Verge. While the potential business partnership is intended to make ticketing and the concert experience as a whole more seamless, it could come at the expense of customers’ privacy.

    Blink Identity’s live events technology claims to be able to identify people in just “half a second.” When implemented correctly, it can allow “venue or festival management to identify people using facial biometrics as they walk at full speed past our sensor, handling over 60 people a minute.”

    “We will continue investing in new technologies to further differentiate Ticketmaster from others in the ticketing business,” Live Nation wrote in a message to their investors obtained by the Verge, touting the tech’s ability to “associate your digital ticket with your image.”


    (Read: Insight: Scalpers, Promoters, Artists, & Fans: Who’s burning whom?)

    Blink Identity’s reach goes beyond just entry into a venue, too. “Once inside, concert goers can use their face — literally — to buy drinks, swag, enter VIP areas, and more,” the company’s site explains. “It’s also possible to collect usable and sharable data on each person that walks through our biometric entry gateway.”

    That last bit about data collection might be a deal-breaker for customers, however. Just think of it this way: In order for Blink Identity’s technology to work efficiently, Ticketmaster would need to keep an updated database of its own users’ faces and information. If this sounds a little bit like over-surveillance, that might be because Blink Identity’s technology was actually created for the military — the company’s founding team has “spent the last decade building and deploying large scale biometric identification systems in the Middle East for the Department of Defense.”

    In terms of feasibility, the use of Blink Identity would require venues to purchase and outfit their spaces with the proper technology. And even with such advanced technological screening processes in place, it’s hard to imagine the long queues of physical body searches going away anytime soon — especially given the rise in concert terrorist attacks.