Lonely Planet Writer

Hawaii tourism campaign uses facial recognition technology as a marketing tool

A tourism campaign in Hawaii is experimenting with facial recognition technology to see what visitors to the Pacific islands really want to see and do.

Early morning at the famous Hanalei Bay, on the island of Kauai.
Early morning at the famous Hanalei Bay, on the island of Kauai. Image by Glowing Earth Photography

As part of the plan – potential visitors can watch drone footage of Hawaii’s spectacular landscapes, a selection of outdoor activities, and glimpses of its cultural heritage.

While they watch the video, their facial expressions can be recorded to see what parts of the footage inspired them most (or indeed caused them to yawn).

From that, travellers will be given a customised guide for the islands aligned with the sections of the drone footage that seemed to get them most excited.

The campaign – called Discover Your Aloha – showcases some of Hawaii’s most stunning scenery with scenes of lava dripping into the sea, sandy beaches, as well as soaring cliffs and deep canyons.

The video is also available via YouTube and also features activities like zip-lining, quad biking, horse-riding and of course surfing.

When watched through the ‘Aloha’ website with a video camera turned on however, the software picks up on viewer emotions.

As they explained themselves: “The bespoke facial recognition software, developed specifically for this campaign by digital agency Realise, identifies which footage evokes the most positive reaction from the viewer.”

Viewers can then go straight through to book a personalised Hawaiian holiday package that seems to best fit their tastes.

Randy Baldemor of the Hawaii Tourism Authority said: “[This] has helped us to further distinguish Hawaii as an incomparable destination by bringing to life and personalising the distinct culture and magnificent geography that set us apart.

“In keeping with our vision to make greater, more effective use of technology to promote Hawaii, the drone-shot video footage and facial recognition software allows travel consumers to discover the qualities they find most appealing.”