Spain's Teatreneu has trialled a system that uses facial recognition to track audience responses and charges them according to how much they enjoyed the show.
Entertainers, much like the publishing industry, are facing a much more tough environment for making profit in an age where it's easier (and often cheaper) for consumers to get their kicks online. We've previously seen the literary world respond with ideas such as Total BooX — the Israeli startup that charges readers by the page, rather than for entire titles. In a similar way, Spain's Teatreneu has now trialled a system that uses facial recognition to track audience responses and charges them according to how much they enjoyed the show.
Developed in conjunction with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, the project came about as a result of government increases to theatre production tax in Spain in 2013, which obliterated audience figures. In order to win back fans, Barcelona's independent comedy theater company Teatreneu launched a show that promised to only charge audience members according to how much they laughed. The venue fitted tablets to the back of each seat equipped with facial recognition technology. Each time patrons smiled or laughed, a charge of EUR 0.30 was added to their seat ticket. Those who didn't find the show funny didn't have to pay too much, while those who laughed a lot were charged up to EUR 24.
Watch the video below to learn more about the scheme:
According to the creators, the show saw revenue of up to EUR 6 more per customer than traditional productions, and won 35 percent more spectators. The creators also suggested — with tongue in cheek — that tragic drama productions could use the technology to track audience tears, and experimental dance shows could charge for every 'WTF' uttered by viewers. Although Pay Per Laugh was largely a marketing exercide, could this idea be implemented on a larger scale?