People have expressed their horror over the introduction of a new “dystopian” gadget that would count the number of people in a room to charge for streaming.
On Monday, reporter Sean Aitchison shared a screenshot of a press release email he received about the device to Twitter.
In the email, it explains that the technology was developed by Xcinex’s streaming platform Venue, and that the new gadget will have the “ability to monitor a living room for people and sell individual On-Demand tickets to view at home first-run cinematic releases, sporting events, concerts and more”.
“The new streaming device Venue is like no other product on the market because it holds a detection sensor that counts the number of audience members present in the room, thereby giving content creators the ability to sell tickets on a pay-per-viewer basis,” the email continues, adding that the device will “revolutionise the way consumers will select, purchase and view their entertainment choices”.
Decider and Deadline previously reported on the technology in June 2020, at the time revealing that the streaming system would scan your face to determine how many individuals to charge for.
While the technology was announced last year, the email coincides with the launch of the new device and includes the offer to interview Venue founder and CEO Cihan Fuat Atkin.
However, on Twitter, where Aitchison captioned the tweet: “just got this frightening press email. IT COUNTS PEOPLE IN THE ROOM SO IT CAN CHARGE PER PERSON??!?! Capitalism is f***ing exhausting,” hundreds of people have also expressed their concerns over the device.
“Why would anyone buy a device that charged them per person in the room and monitored them? Who wants that level of intrusion in their house?!?” one person tweeted.
Another said: “Beyond the horrifying privacy concerns… Does it pause and demand more money if someone joins you after it starts? Will it count large dogs? Ghosts?”
“I love how they claim that it’s a whole new dimension in home entertainment without listing anything that isn’t a downside for the consumer,” someone else wrote. “Great press mail.”
Others found the humour in the technology, with one person pointing out that they don’t actually watch the movies along with their partner, but rather sit on the couch staring at their phone.
“Look, my husband might be watching a movie, but I’m doing crossword puzzles on my phone and periodically making noises of approval or shock based solely on the music,” they wrote, while someone else joked: “Introducing my new business idea, living room camouflage for the whole family!”
Atkin previously told Deadline that the technology doesn’t “monitor” viewers, but rather works as a “head count”.
“I wouldn’t say ‘monitored.’ I would say ‘head count,’” he said. “It doesn’t do facial recognition. It just makes sure that the number of people in the room matches the number of tickets.”
The CEO also said that the data collected by the company would “never leave our ecosystem” and that“It’s machine vision, so there’s no human being looking at a monitor”.
The Independent has contacted Xcinex for comment.