MoviePass Co-Founder Is Using Facial Recognition to Get You ‘Free’ Movie Tickets — With a Catch

PreShow will give customers "free" tickets if they sit through 20 minutes of ads — while their phone watches them back.
PreShow movie ticket app

The days of simply going to a movie theater and paying for a ticket may soon be over, dear reader, if tech executives have their way. Following the many ups and downs of MoviePass, a new venture is being launched by one of that company’s founders to score viewers movie tickets for the low, low price of sitting through 15 to 20 minutes of advertisements. Before you point out that everyone already does that when they watch trailers in the theater, know this: PreShow wants to utilize facial recognition and track how much attention you’re paying to each ad.

“If it weren’t for facial recognition, I don’t think we could still do it,” Stacy Spikes, PreShow’s founder and chief executive, said in an interview with CNET last week. “If not, they could game this all day long.”

Here’s how it works, per CNET: “Forgoing a password, PreShow’s app will only unlock with your phone’s facial recognition technology. And while you’re watching the ads to earn that free ticket, your phone’s camera monitors your level of attention. Walk away or even obscure part of your face? The ad will pause after five seconds.”

“We had two problems to solve: We didn’t want people creating dummy accounts, and we’re dealing with real currency at the end of the day, so we needed to uniquely lock it,” Spikes, who co-founded MoviePass in 2011 but departed when Helios and Matheson Analytics acquired it, said. “Facial recognition at the phone level is just a year and a half old. You couldn’t do this company two years ago.”

Spikes launched a Kickstarter for PreShow this week, and has already surpassed his initial goal of $10,000 — as of this writing, the campaign is at nearly $15,000. The service will initially be invite-only.

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