National Pharmacies intros facial recognition at Australian stores

National Pharmacies has integrated facial recognition capabilities into its in-store kiosks at approximately 100 branded pharmacies in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to allow customers to conduct a range of transactions, according to a report by IT News.

The kiosks are comprised of Samsung tablets running Oracle’s mobile cloud service (MCS). Any of the pharmacy group’s 350,000 registered customers can now authenticate themselves using facial recognition at an in-store kiosk.

The tablet’s camera captures a photo of the customer, which is then transmitted to Amazon Rekognition.

The deep-learning tool converts the image to attributes that National Pharmacies then matches with the customer’s data stored an instance of Oracle identity management.

At Oracle Openworld 2017, National Pharmacies general manager Ryan Klose said the company’s trials of Rekognition had convinced it of the need to use it with Oracle technology, instead of as a standalone solution to authenticate members.

“We had to deal with people using pictures of themselves on their phone to register their face. If you want to log on as me and you didn’t use any other technology (to verify the photo) then it would just work with a photo,” Klose said, adding that the company had devise “a number of techniques” to properly authenticate a member on its kiosks. “If you’re innovating in security, the less predictable you are, the better.”

Customers can use the in-store kiosks to access seven different software platforms, update their membership details, view previous transactions, and book an appointment with the pharmacist for any type of health checkup.

In addition, customers can use the kiosks to print off promotional vouchers sent to their mobile app — which use location services on Android and iOS and Oracle MCS — or access other components of the pharmacy’s loyalty programs.

“Early on, we launched a mobile app but we found some members chose not to use mobile phones as their retail (interface),” Klose said. “It wasn’t fair that they weren’t made these offers other than through the mobile” so the organisation expanded the ways it rewarded loyalty.

National Pharmacies is also developing an augmented reality app called vOffer to be released in time for Christmas, Klose said.

Inspired by Pokemon Go, the augmented reality app will enable customers can view a store through their smartphone’s camera and see prices or product information customized for them.

”You can give different members different prices depending on their purchase patterns,” Klose said.

Customers could use the app to “see” the location of a nearby store, discounted products, and collect tokens to win prizes.

The company is also trialing a similar project called vSelection, which shows relevant products to a customer’s health complaint.

“It can be quite overwhelming to know what to get if I have hay fever or a runny nose. Products will pop up as you spin around (with the camera) and show you what works for hay fever,” Klose said. “It’s helping in the health selection process. There are 10,000 SKUs [different products] in a store; it’s harder [to choose] than [going to] the supermarket.”

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