Max Dovey is the innovative designer behind ‘The Hipster Bar’. Less of an actual bar and more of a pop-up computer engineering project, it uses artificial intelligence to determine if each individual is ‘hipster enough’ (the algorithm rates the individual as 90% hipster or more) to enter the makeshift watering hole. But there remains lots of questions, and, of course, some criticism surrounding the culturally irreverent social experiment.
The UK-based 28-year-old built the software from scratch, and combines artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology to determine which among us are the true hipsters, and which are just posers (or, ya know, not hipsters at all). If you think your beard, oversized glasses, and plaid shirt were enough to beat this machine, you better think again.
For the past two years, Dovey has been touring the UK with his technology, and has successfully turned the most commercial spaces into exclusively hipster-filled dive bars. Dovey admits there are some faults with the current technology saying, “It tears up friendship groups, and tears up families. Often the dad of a family will be able to come in, and the wife and the child have to watch outside, which I’m not too happy about. There has been an issue of trying to get the software to recognise female hipsters – so I’ve had to look further for more images of women so it wasn’t a very male bar.”
Instead of a regular bouncer that checks IDs and maintains the security of the bar entrance, The Hipster Bar relies on a computer to screen potential customers to determine what percentage hipster they are. If the computer determines that they are at least 90% hipster, they are allowed entry into the bar. Dovey maintains a smart database of hipster and non-hipster images, and his software sifts through the pre-loaded photos to see how similar each individual is to the ‘hipster’ photos. The technology analyzes faces, clothing, accessories, body language, and more.
When asked about what ‘type’ of person generally is granted access to the bar, Dovey says, “It turns out that the older gentleman has a very high success rate, women with glasses, and some stylish clothes basically. Glasses, the beard, the checked shirt, and if you’ve got a coffee cup that really helps.”
The technology is also relies on machine learning, as more photos are added to the database each day, and needs to sort through the qualities of each to determine which is hipster and which is not. This has also made it increasingly difficult for patrons to obtain entry into the bar, because as the technology improves, the more authentic hipster the must look in order to score a pint.
Dovey himself even has a hard time getting past his own technology confessing, “I used to get into the bar quite easily, and now I find it really hard. I have to wear glasses and put on a fake beard, so I have to go in disguise.”
While Max has chosen a unique subculture to highlight his innovative technology, he’s not really for or against hipsters. He chose the group as a guinea pig target to test out his software. But, artificial intelligence has proved itself to be of vital importance to our future with software currently in use in airports, shopping malls, for military purposes, and much more.