10 August, 2015
Some Sunday worshipers are being tracked without ever signing an attendance book thanks to facial recognition software designed especially for churches.
Churchix is a tracking software that identifies people in videos and photos. Its main purpose is to measure attendance at an event, like Sunday morning services.
The company behind the software, Face-Six, touts Churchix as the first downloadable video face recognition desktop app on the web.
“Churchix processes each and every frame, and once a face is detected in a frame, Churchix runs a template generation process which turns the face into a template or vector which serves as a face representation,” says Moshe Greenshpan, founder and CEO of Face-Six. “Those vectors coming from the video are then compared against the faces represented in the database.” The church enrolls members and adds their pictures to the database.
The company reports 42 clients using Churchix worldwide – including the U.S. – in mostly medium to large churches.
“Attendance to events and services is a key indicator on how the church performs in terms of popularity and growth. It also allows the church to keep a close connection to its members,” Greenshpan says. “Most churches already keep track of members’ attendance manually. However, when it comes to big events it is nearly an impossible task to track members. This is why Churchix is so useful.”
Greenshpan can’t say whether the churches tell parishioners they’re being videotaped or photographed. He says clients that use Churchix have so far declined to disclose their identity because they don’t want to be considered “privacy invaders.”
“There’s no doubt using the technology makes some people uncomfortable,” Greenshpan says. “We tell privacy advocates that the real question here is should the church keep track of their members’ attendance, manually or otherwise? If not, then the problem is not about face recognition, which is only digitizing the registration process.”