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Ask HN: How could a local face recognition system for a health club go wrong?
6 points by flyGuyOnTheSly 5 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 4 comments
I am wary of facial recognition systems when implemented by big governments, big corporations, etc...

But I have a unique use case which would make checking into my local yoga studio so much better.

Instead of lining up to have a front desk staff member who doesn't know your name or face double check that you have enough credits left to attend a yoga class...

Imagine if you could just walk through the door, with a screen saying "Hi flyGuyOnTheSly, you have 5 classes remaining after you use this one!" and you could just walk into class.

The only angle I can think of for this kind of system going wrong would be if the "small yoga studio" grew into a "big yoga studio" or "big something else" and continued to implement and grow their facial recognition data.

But other than that, any concerns you might have would be appreciated.

Thanks for reading.


This would be first of all a breach of privacy. If hacked into it could be used for surveillance, stalking and who knows what.

A better solution IMO would be to have an RFID reader that connects to a custom virtual RFID tag in your phone, and tells you all that. Android can already do this, iOS is I think on the way to be able to do it, some stuff was added in iOS 13.

These types of methods are often attempted to be used for payments but theres a bunch of practicalities in rolling them out that hurts adoption.

Id say the easiest is to give them an app where they can check their credits and geofence the yoga class so a push notification appears once you arrive.

If you really wanted to, you could display a TV displaying a live page on your website and when the geofencing is triggered it will display the persons details.

If we extend the thought experiment a little, an insurance provider could tie up with all gyms and get the data to help them charge differential premiums depending on the basis of how many times you visit the gym and how fit you are. This could also be used by supplement manufactures to target you or athleisure brands to target you.

It's a slippery slope and the rabbit hole only goes deeper

I'm not quite grasping the use case - even if the front desk staff does know your name and face, don't they still need to check your credits?

My local gym has an app with a QR code, which you just scan as you go in. This sounds like a reasonable tech solution to the actual problem. I have to imagine someone out there has packaged this kind of thing as an off-the-shelf solution.

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