Think you can keep a straight face while watching your favourite comedian? A comedy club in Barcelona is betting you can't, and it is even basing its ticket prices on how often it can make you laugh. Teatreneu has installed facial-recognition technology on the back of its chairs to track how much each person in their theatre has enjoyed the show.
One laugh will cost you 0.30€, and customers could face a maximum charge of 24€. The system was dreamt up by Barcelona-based advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, after Teatreneu asked them to think up a way to increase ticket sales.
It seems the pricing system has caught on, with other theatres in Spain now copying the pay-per-laugh technology. It is unclear which facial recognition software is being used, but most use algorithms to track facial landmarks on a subject's face. For instance, an algorithm can analyse the position, size or shape of the mouth to determine whether a person is laughing, smiling or sad. The comedy club has also launched a mobile app as a method of payment and a pay-per-laugh season ticket.
James Woroniecki, director of London's 99 Club, told the BBC: 'Sounds fun, just so long as all the facial recognition data doesn't get forwarded to the NSA [US National Security Agency]. 'It'd be a big technical challenge - as people laugh so often at the 99 we'd have to install a cash machine by every seat.'