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Ticketmaster Says “Good-Bye” to Paper Tickets and “Hello” to New Tech

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I recently attended a baseball game, and I was extremely surprised about two things:

  1. How long the lines were to get into the game.  We arrived very close to the first pitch, and the line ups were still down the street, and;
  2. That I was issued a paper ticket.  It’s 2017, right?

Further to that second point, the ticket specifically said that you must present the paper ticket.  I was thinking that I could put it on my phone and show that to them at the gate, but no.  I’m a bit paranoid and assumed I was going to lose the tickets also.  It was a full size piece of paper!  I had to fold it into four (or more), which means you can’t save it as a keepsake.  Unless you reprint the originals.  But I’m skirting around the topic of this article.  Which is – paper tickets may be a thing of the past.  Which might actually solve the two problems I listed above.

Ticketmaster has launched a new service called Presence.  The aim of the system is to help reduce ticket fraud.  But the off-shoot benefits include those I’ve listed above.  What exactly does Presence do? It’s essentially a way for the venue to verify that you are the owner of the ticket.  If I sell my tickets to today’s baseball game to someone else, with this system, the tickets are transferred to their smartphone.  It is based on the fact that each smartphone is unique.  Further, it uses ultrasonic audio technology to broadcast data from your smartphone to a venue.

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The technology uses what they call “smart tones”, which is audio based and is in a hard to hear range.  The data can then be transmitted between compatible devices.  So it’s not using your phone data, or even the internet.  Which is really a neat from a technology perspective.  Jaguar Land Rover is currently using this technology to identify drivers and then use that information to personalize the interior of a car to set climate control preferences.  Google uses this ultrasonic audio technology as part of it’s Nearby Messages API.  So it’s technically not “new”, but it’s definitely an emerging technology.

All of this sounds pretty cool.  But, like I always wonder – what does this mean from a privacy perspective?  Sure, the venue scans your ticket, but now they’re transmitting data to and from your phone.  According to VentureBeat, by allowing access to your smartphone, the venue also has access to “precise geo-locations of each guest”.  Which is a bit of a red flag for me.  But maybe its harmless? Especially if others are using it, including Google. The venue can then send personalized messages to attendees as they move about the venue.  Which could be helpful if they would notify you about long lines at the concession stands. Or maybe if a washroom was out of order?

Further to the concession idea, there are plans to add a shopping capability with the technology.  Which would allow attendees to purchase food and drinks from their seats, rather than having to wait in line, like a chump.  I guess it’s kind of like the Starbucks mobile app situation.  Order your drink and then just walk in to pick it up?This is a really neat idea and system, but I wonder how much it will actually reduce lines, like they claim?  When it comes to getting into the venue, they still have to check your bags and you, from a security perspective.  So, you still have to wait in line.

But I do like the idea that I won’t have to carry a ticket around with me any more.  Everything else in my life is on my smartphone.  Why not sporting event and concert tickets?

 

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