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While most people in the tech business only roll into Austin once a year for SXSW, a handful of companies choose to call the city home. Fjord (formerly known as Chaotic Moon) is one of them. So, when the festival sets up around them, it uses the week as an opportunity to show of some of its proof of concept (and usually fun) ideas.
Enter Party Bot: an app that uses AI in real time to make sure any gathering doesn’t get gatecrashed, and has the DJ well-informed on what to play (which is an improvement on a boring Spotify playlist for sure). Party Bot first needs to know what you look like. Peer into an app and move your face around a bit, and it’ll then be able to match your name to your face. You can complete your profile by telling it which types of music you prefer, or those that have you leaving the dance floor.
Once you’re behind the velvet rope and the Cristal is flowing, you can set up cameras/iPads around the party/club/whatever that will spot revelers in the crowd. Knowing who’s on the dance floor, and what music they prefer gives even the worst DJ a chance to ease up on the Taylor Swift, and go heavy on the Motörhead (if that’s what the audience wants). Other applications could be a simple way to grant access to VIP areas, or offer drinks promotions at the bar (or suggest maybe you’ve been at the bar a little too much).
That’s the theory of course. The reality is that Party Bot is just Fjord showing off what it can do. The app did get involved in the company’s own SXSW party, but we missed out on that (we were presumably at a better party, or one without a bot). Instead, we got to try it in a much more sober setting: a pop-trivia quiz in a hotel conference room. Party Bot recognized me, called me by my name, and then hit me with some simple questions. My challenge was to get enough right to win a T-shirt. We kinda cheated, as I didn’t know who first sang "Blue Suede Shoes." (Hint: not Elvis.) But we got given a T-shirt anyway — and uninvited to all future parties, no doubt.