Face-Recognition Software At A Hotel? What Could Go Wrong?

If you're classy and rich enough to get your mid-day nookie-on-the-side at the Hilton Americas, be warned: Your face is going into a database.

The hotel has announced that it's installed a security system that uses "facial recognition, license plate recognition and advanced motion analytics." It doesn't seem to think this has any Big Brother aspects at all.

"I've never seen anything that is able to do the things this technology does; it's light-years ahead of the system we previously used," says John Alan Moore, the hotel's security director.

Says the hotel:

Another use for the system that Hilton Americas-Houston has found useful is recognizing repeat customers. According to Moore, "We will be able to tie in with front office systems to flag our Gold Card members in order to be able to blow them away with service. This is another tool to be used to keep Hilton as the leader in the industry."

With 90% accuracy, the system registers few false positives, even picking up good facial info on cameras not specifically designated as facial-recognition.

On a humorous note, the system is so sensitive that it has recognized faces that were not actually guests; they were photos of the t-shirts of guests. Moore said "President Obama made an appearance on our skywalk, on a guest's clothing. That's how bad the system wants to recognize a face." This high-sensitivity makes the system a most useful tool for the property, providing the ultimate in guest safety and security.
Ha! That's funny about how every frigging face goes into a database, along with your privacy!! (Note to guests: Don't wear that Che Guevara t-shirt to the Hilton Americas; he's probably still on some terrorist list.)

The Hilton is positively giddy at the thought of all it can do now: "[T]the hotel is also able to utilize the 3VR system to ensure the best possible customer service. Hilton Americas-Houston is now able to help guests locate lost possessions with the system's color, directional and object search capabilities," its announcement states. "A guest's misplaced suitcase can be found almost instantly by following the piece using a search based on color and object, from the time it enters the hotel all along its path throughout the building."

No, that doesn't sound creepy at all. Not at all.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly