Industry News » The changing face of events

The changing face of events

Panos Moutafis, co-founder and CEO of Zenus, talks to EN about the role facial recognition could play in exhibitions.

Every so often, you come across technology that could well change the face of live events.

While still in the very early stages, facial recognition software is reaching a point where event professionals are starting to seriously look into its potential uses in the industry.

It’s an intriguing vision of the future; visitors to an event walking in without badges or registration, but instead having their faces scanned, recognised and logged on entry.

Houston-based Zenus is one of the companies looking into ways that facial recognition technology and events can come together, and EN sits down with co-founder and CEO Panos Moutafis to learn more about the progress being made.

“As of now, nothing like it exists,” he says, talking about the company’s tech offering. “At registration when people give their details, they will have the option of opting in to provide photo. The organiser will never send us the personal information; they will send us the images.

“Our service then extracts their facial geometry and you immediately get the image. When we create the facial geometry, we have a unique identifier, and we pass it back to the registration platform.”

Zenus provides organisers with a generic API, meaning that existing industries and companies can integrate it into their technology and add facial recognition to their existing products.

“Before the event, depending on the requirements of the event planner, we have different ways of implementing the process,” explains Moutafis. “We will have a camera at the beginning of the line, and when people are walking towards the kiosk the camera will pick up their face, and it lets them go saying, ‘your badge is pending’. They walk towards the entrance and by the time they arrive, the badge is ready to go and they are recognised.

“It takes on average about 20 seconds per delegate. This is one of the fastest times we have seen in the market.”

At the point that EN talks to Zenus the company has 1,000 faces in its database and is recording 99.9 per cent accuracy, and is constantly working to further improve the accuracy of the technology. The company has worked on two events in the USA and expects to use the technology at more and more big events.

Although Zenus is based in Houston, Moutafis and his team have big plans for international expansion, with a planned move to Belgium and London in 2018.

“We are seeing more and more production, there has been a big response from the market,” he reveals. “Organisers are coming directly to us. Right now, we are very focused on the technology; we’re trying to make the check-in experience better and faster and more secure.”

With the iPhone X now on the market, and its much-discussed facial recognition log-in software grabbing the headlines, consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with the technology.

“Sometimes when you have something new, like online payments, initially people are a little bit worried,” muses Moutafis “But more and more as they use the technology, they see the advantage.

“We are being very careful that the whole process will not compromise any data. The latest smartphones will boost this, like they did with finger print technology. It’s good news for the industry, and for us.”

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