AXS announced that it would be rolling out a biometric ticketing system at Red Rocks, the iconic venue in the mountains outside Denver. The system, powered by Amazon One’s palm recognition technology, will be added immediately to the Red Rocks entry systems, with plans to roll out the scanning systems to other venues in the future.
The palm scan will be optional at first – AXS plans to offer dedicated terminals for consumers who opt in to use the system, but retain its other ticketing options at gates, at least for the time being.
“We are proud to work with Amazon to continue shaping the future of ticketing through cutting-edge innovation,” said Bryan Perez, CEO of AXS. “We are also excited to bring Amazon One to our clients and the industry at a time when there is a need for fast, convenient, and contactless ticketing solutions. At AXS, we are continually deploying new technologies to develop secure and smarter ticketing offerings that improve the fan experience before, during and after events.”
Amazon One is already in use at some storefront Amazon locations, where consumers can grab goods and check out by scanning their palm on their way out, eliminating the expense of cashiers from the system. Users who wish to opt in would be able to have their palm scanned prior to an event, which would link the biometric data to their AXS account. From that point, they could use the palm scanning terminals at venues ticketed by the company, which it touts as taking less only seconds to validate, keeping the line moving.
At Red Rocks, plans are to have a biometric scanning station outside the gate area for those who wish to give their palm scans to the corporations, as well as inside the amphitheatre to scan in for future usage.
“We’re thrilled to work with AXS to offer fans at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and other future venues the opportunity to enter events quickly and easily with just their palm using the contactless Amazon One service,” said Dilip Kumar, Vice President of Physical Retail & Technology at Amazon. “Fans can now enjoy a more effortless experience entering Red Rocks Amphitheatre, giving them more time to get settled and enjoy the show. We look forward to hearing how fans enjoy the experience, and can’t wait to bring it to more locations with AXS to benefit even more event-goers.”
The use of biometric data as part of the ticketing process has been enormously controversial, ever since companies like Live Nation first toyed with the idea of facial recognition as part of the venue entry process. Both Live Nation and AXS issued promises that they would not use such systems at festivals in reaction to a coordinated campaign pushing back against facial recognition tech in 2019. But the use of the COVID pandemic as an excuse towards such “contactless” systems has once again been gathering steam, with one team executive in Europe expressing hope that “we use this coronavirus pandemic to change rules” banning invasive biometric and facial-recognition technology, saying that “The coronavirus is a bigger enemy than [any threat to] privacy.”
COVID has already been used as a trojan horse to force through the long-desired shift to digital-only ticketing systems vs. paper tickets, with companies like Ticketmaster pushing hard to rebrand anti-resale systems like SafeTix rotating barcodes as part of a “covid-safe” reopening plan. This is in spite of massive consumer pushback against these systems, which dramatically reduce consumer choice and ticket rights compared to easily transferrable paper tickets – and have even found loopholes to force mobile-only tickets in states like New York where consumers are required to have other options for tickets they purchase by law.
The use of a palm-based system will likely remove some of the protestation that facial recognition brings – it at least mitigates the known issue that facial recognition fares far poorer in cases where the face being identified is not white – but fails to address the overriding privacy concerns in any meaningful way, let alone the issues of consumer ticket rights for tickets they paid for.
The release announcing the rollout glosses over privacy concerns, merely indicating that “the service is designed to be highly secure” and that it uses custom-built algorithms to create the unique palm signature. Less certain are how things might go if there is a bad scan or corruption of data in the system while thousands attempt to enter an event.