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Comedy club charges by the laugh using facial recognition tech

Definitely a unique approach to charging audience members for a live performance, Barcelona-based comedy theater Teatreneu tested out a system in which members of the audience were charged based off their enjoyment of the show. Partnering with creative agency The Cyranos McCann to accomplish this feat, the theater was outfitted with tablets attached to the back of every seat. Using facial recognition software running on the tablets,the built-in camera in the tablet constantly filmed the audience members and the software was programmed to watch for smiles as well as laughter.

Interestingly, the theater did not require any upfront charge to attend the comedy show. Instead, each time the software captured a moment of happiness, a charge of 0.30 Euro ($0.38) was added to the seat ticket price. The pricing system was capped at 80 instances of happiness, thus the maximum someone would pay for the ticket was 24 Euro (approximately $30).

However, someone that smiled or laughed more than 80 times could view those statistics at the end of the show and share the results on social networks, thus encouraging their friends to attend in the future. Of course, an audience member that only smiled or laughed a few times would be able to leave the theater without spending much money at all.

The results of the experiment were definitely positive for the Teatreneu comedy club. According to Springwise, overall ticket prices went up by 6 Euro ($7.64) and each run of the show brought in 28,000 Euro (approximately $35,600) more revenue than using the traditional method of selling tickets. It’s likely that this system resulted in fewer unhappy customers that attempted to demand their money back after the end of each show.

Other theaters in Spain have shown interest in testing out that same facial recognition tech to see if they can create the same results. In addition, a mobile application has been created to pay for the ticket with a smartphone rather than using the payment system built into the tablets.