Facial Recognition Delivers Candid Pics to Illinois Marathon Runners

The latest Illinois Marathon took advantage of biometric technology to help improve runners’ experience.Facial Recognition Delivers Candid Pics to Illinois Marathon Runners

The technology came by way of EnMotive, which describes itself as a timing and race production company. Its EnPhoto platform was used to automatically identify runners’ bibs and faces, and to send personalized alerts to the participants as they finished their events. It also enabled runners to use the platform’s “Selfie” tool to find pictures of themselves via facial recognition, in much the same way that Facebook’s ‘tag suggestions’ feature can automatically tag users in photos uploaded to the social media platform.

On that note, the Illinois Marathon provides an interesting venue for this kind of technology. Illinois is one of just a few states to have biometric privacy legislation on the books, and it’s Facebook’s ‘tag suggestions’ feature that has led to a class action lawsuit against that company under Illinois law. Of course, a big part of the issue there is the matter of consent, with the Facebook lawsuit stemming from the platform’s use of biometrics without explicit authorization from subjects.

Presumably, EnMotive and organizers of the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Race Weekend got runners’ permission before they applied this technology to their faces. In a statement, EnMotive boasted that over 75,000 photos were generated using its technology at the Illinois Marathon, and that “[w]ithin 48 hours of the event, the branded photos generated over 5.7 million impressions through social shares, views, and downloads, with a better than 99% tag rate of participants and delivering a media value of over $30,000.00 for the event and sponsors.”

The claim denotes a perhaps more positive approach to the benefits of facial recognition than that shown by organizers of a half marathon in Beijing last year, where the technology was used to identify ringers hired to run the race in place of actual registrants in a bid to win some acclaim on social media.

May 11, 2018 – by Alex Perala