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Facial recognition service profiles customer habits, age, gender


Facial recognition technology is popping up everywhere: at the border, on your phone, at a red light and now, in stores.

NEC, a leader in biometric technology, has launched a facial recognition service in Japan that lets merchants profile customers to estimate gender, age and frequency of shopping using only a security camera and an internet browser.

The service, called NeoFace, gathers this data through facial recognition to help companies tailor their marketing strategies, engadget reports.

Powered through NEC’s own cloud system, this service costs about $800 US per month and is intended for retailers with multiple stores, as NeoFace can detect repeat customers across multiple locations. “Retailers can find out how many customers visit their stores at each time of day and what customers’ attributes are,” company representative Motohiro Iwao explains in a video pitching the service.

As an increasing number of companies turn to facial recognition solution, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last month released a best practices report concerning common uses of the technology. Written to protect consumers privacy, the FTC report recommends that companies using facial recognition design their services with privacy in mind.

“Face data is encrypted in real-time and encrypted into characteristic data sets for analysis,” the video narration continues, addressing the obvious consumer privacy concerns. “Because face data can’t be restored from characteristic data, there’s no risk that face data would be inadvertently disclosed.”

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