Universal Studios experimenting with facial recognition technology

- Universal Studios in Orlando is testing technology that scans your face while you wait in line. It can identify who you are, where you are staying and whether you are up to no good.

Just outside of the Cat and the Hat ride at Universal Studios, visitors will see a sign that reads:

“Universal Orlando is testing photo validation technology for guests with an on-site hotel Universal Express Unlimited Pass. During this test, a facial image will be stored and automatically validated by our system. This image may be viewed by Universal team members and third party suppliers."

Inside the queue, guests stand on the triangle, place their photo ID Express Pass on the rectangle and then look into the circle. The camera matches the human face with the ID, and the guest proceeds to the ride.

The Spiderman ride is testing the technology too.

Universal public relations did not respond to Fox 29’s request as to why they're doing this, but an employee at the testing site said it's about ensuring someone isn't using someone else's upgraded pass to skip lines.

Theme park bloggers speculate that the test signifies something even bigger in the works to improve line efficiency down the road, as this test right now is just for hotel occupants. Guests can also opt-out of the test.

Fox 29 stopped by Sighthound for some insight. They’re experts at combining artificial intelligence and computer vision. In fact, Sighthound welcomes you to its offices with a robot.

Sighthound CEO Stephen Neish isn't surprised Universal Orlando is tinkering with facial recognition software. He told Fox 29 airports are similarly pushing technology development to help improve line speeds.

"The idea is you can have cameras monitoring, for example, a corridor in an airport," Neish explained. "The camera will know you’re there. It will recognize you and compare that against a known traveler database."

But there's always the nagging issue of people hacking into computers.

"Whenever you start accumulating databases of fingerprints or faces or passwords, there's always a danger these things could be hacked and abused," Neish said. "But we need to be aware of the risks and protect against them as much as possible, and we need to recognize that most of these things are for good."

At the least, improving theme park lines would fit into this category.

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