A Hyperconnected Night Out

fingerprintSomething that’s causing a storm-in-a-teacup at the moment in my hometown is Nightkey – a new ID system that uses your fingerprint to create a biometric link between you and the ID you supply. It’s being sold as an “anti-antisocial behaviour” solution. I was outraged when I found out about it: I object because I feel that it’s treating your clientele like prisoners, and I believe this goes against the “innocent until proven guilty” philosophy our societal and legal paradigms are built up upon. Will it curb anti-social behaviour? Possibly. Is it treading the line between having privacy and living in a police-state? Most definitely.

I’m not going to discuss the huge body of privacy concerns in this post. What I would like to discuss is the possible extension of this machine into a marketing device, and the impacts that this would have upon going out, night-clubbing and society.

Welcome to the machine

Consider, if you will, the manager of a savvy club with Nightkey installed on the front doors. At the end of the night, she has a look at how many people came through the door: “Hmm. only 278 tonight, we’ll have to get some better bands next Saturday. And out of those 278, 178 were male – we need more females to keep the guys happy! I’ll contact my ad guy and get him to come up with some female-oriented ads. The problem is, it looks like girls under 25 spend on average $15 less than guys aged over 25. I’ll get my stats guy to find the ideal ratio and age for maximum profit.”

I hope the above monologue illustrates my point: something like the Nightkey system could easily turn you into a statistic. I’m not sure how much stat-crunching Nightkey can do out-of-the-box, but  even a little will give businesses a huge advantage in terms of clientele tracking. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I’ll let you decide.

Fancy meeting you here

Here’s a simple mash-up one could do: linking your Nightkey details to your Facebook account. And here’s a way around the privacy laws: “Add our application to your facebook profile and we’ll give you a free beer and VIP entry!”. Very tempting. The devil is of course in the EULA. Almost instantly, you have complete demographic information about your punters. Then it’s just up to advertising. You can play god with your own club (and get that power trip that the bouncers get when they turn someone away). Not that club owner’s don’t try and do all this already.

What I’m trying to get at is that this type of  technology means that you could build communties through statistical analysis. Hyperconnectivity could soon mould our physical social interactions. We could be entering the next social paradigm shift, the next renaissance. A Brave New World. If we could steer this in the right direction: minority groups could prosper, culture would be fortified, people could be connected to their perfect matches. In the wrong hands: I won’t go there.