A new company is offering facial recognition technology to churches. Called Churchix, the organization is an offshoot of Israeli biometrics company Skakash, whose technology has been used in casinos, airports, and other security-conscious deployments.
The technology is primarily being marketed as an administrative tool, allowing church officials to better analyze attendance. Those who attend church regularly, for example, could be highlighted as potential donors, while having the software identify those whose attendance is dropping off could allow church officials to reach out to those individuals to learn more. In an interview with the Washington Post, Skakash CEO Moshe Greenshpan said that so far about 40 churches around the world have integrated the technology, which is generally implemented to work with pre-existing cameras at church facilities, and that they range widely in size – though it’s easy to see how this technology could offer particular benefits to the megachurches of the US.
While some may be discomfited by the intrusiveness of such technology, in the case of churches it seems its main function is to automate the processes already commonplace – that is, the work of church leaders to understand their communities and keep an eye on who is attending and who is drifting away. And facial recognition is becoming more commonplace in relatively innocuous applications in the public sphere, as in the case of the Spanish comedy club that has been using it to track audience laughter. It’s too early to tell if it will become widespread in churches, but if the Churchix payoffs are very clear, it could catch on.
Source: The Washington Post
July 27, 2015 – by Alex Perala