Broad facial recognition adoption shows growing comfort in market
New companies, pilots, and services leveraging biometric facial recognition for a wide variety of use cases in the retail, healthcare, banking and payments, public transport, and other industries have been announced or reported, as the technology’s use continues to expand. While controversy continues to spring up around some projects, the range of announcements below seem to have mostly escaped negative publicity.
Retail biometric facial recognition startup Preciate is conducting a pilot with what it says is a prestigious U.S. fashion chain, and has signed an agreement with Fox-Wizel which could be a precursor to use in Israel’s largest retail fashion chain Harel Wizel, according to Globes.
The company was founded by veterans of the retail and security industries last year, and offers facial identification to retailers to enable personalization. Preciate now has 15 employees, and has raised $5 million from private investors so far, and is currently raising another $4 million, according to the report.
Fox-Wizel acquired an option on 20 percent of the company at a valuation of $15.5 million earlier this year, along with an integration and distribution arrangement. Preciate’s technology is already used by The Webster and Showfields.
The company installs cameras that recognize enrolled customers in half a second, Globes reports, and informs store employees of the customer’s identity and shopping preferences. The trick is for stores to get people to sign up for their loyalty clubs.
A trio of Australian university students have developed facial recognition-powered methadone dispensing software. Their startup, Strong Room, has been selected as one of four participants in the inaugural Swinburne Accelerator Program.
The company gets AU$30,000 (roughly US$20,500), expert advice, and a support network of entrepreneurs and industry partners, as well as co-working space in Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct, according to an article from the Swinburne University of Technology.
“We focussed on how facial recognition technology could improve the whole system. Specifically, the dispensing of pharmacotherapy, where patients have to go into a pharmacy every day to collect their medicine, is full of cumbersome and time-consuming administrative processes,” Co-founder Max Mito says.
The technology has already rolled out to 35 pharmacies across Victoria.
Banking and payments
Four out of five bank customers offered facial recognition instead of a PIN as an authentication method agreed to do so, and less than 5 percent of those who registered switched back to traditional methods, a representative of Spanish bank CaixaBank told the ATM Industry Association at a Rome Conference. ATMmarketplace.com reports that CaixaBank Digital Director Alejandro de Oleza told an audience that the technology, which it developed in cooperation with Fujitsu and FacePhi, has reduced waiting times by five percent.
CaixaBank plans to expand the roll-out of facial recognition ATMs from Barcelona and Valencia to many branches in the second half of this year. Since the system was first launched, the facial recognition algorithm has been updated for better performance. Registration is conducted in branch locations, but will be available through mobile devices in 2020.
Google Pay has been updated to support authentication with facial biometrics, Android Central reports.
The move has been anticipated for over a year, as the BiometricPrompt API made clear that biometrics other than fingerprint were planned for authentication on Android P.
The feature is only available on Google’s Pixel 4 device at the moment, according to the report, as the first Android device with 3D imaging hardware for facial recognition. Only a handful of apps support facial recognition log-in so far, but with Google’s new emphasis on face over fingerprint recognition, the number is expected to climb quickly. All updates issued after November 1 are required to implement support for the BiometricPrompt API.
WeChat facial recognition payment has been implemented in Macau by DFS Group in what DFNI Frontier reports is the first by an international merchant outside of mainland China.
DFS installed 10 devices to the T Galleria in Macau’s City of Dreams for the pilot, with the next deployment planned for Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay.
In Korea, Lotte Duty Free has launched AliPay’s Smile to Pay at the Sulwhasoo store in its headquarters at Myeong-dong, Seoul. The company plans to expand the service to 10 more stores in downtown Seoul this year, according to DFNI Frontier.
Customers signing up in the next few weeks will receive an LDF Pay credit of FRW10,000 (US$8.50) from Lotte.
Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan has launched a test of facial recognition payments for its public transportation fleet with equipment for its Face Pay system installed on a pair of buses, New Europe reports.
The system will recognize passengers with accuracy of 95 percent, according to the report, and also identify pickpockets whose photos have been uploaded. The app for the service is developed by local company IPay.
“We created a bot in Telegram, where you can register your Individual Identification Number, take a picture, add a bus card and get into the system. Then you give permission to use your data. After that, you can go into the bus where the equipment is installed and purchase a ticket without any payment or phone cards,” says IPay Founder Almas Aimenov.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), meanwhile, is planning to introduce biometric ticketing for students and senior citizens with a new smart card system, Financial Express reports.
The DMRC was asked in 2018 by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to seek a way to give students and seniors a break on fairs after a steep increase in 2017. The proposal is still subject to approval by the fare fixation committee before implementation steps begin.
Gaming-industry technology supplier JCM Global has partnered with eConnect to bring facial recognition technology to casino floors to prevent money laundering and other criminal activities, Asia Gaming Brief reports.
“Fuzion’s unique capabilities integrated to eConnect’s best in class facial recognition solution has completely changed the way casino operators can identify, review and reduce money laundering,” comments eConnect VP of Sales Jason Cribbs. “Suspicious activities are easily discovered by connecting the patron’s face with the alerts from Fuzion.”
Smart Serve Ontario, the regulatory body overseeing alcohol sales control in the Canadian province, has announced an update to its training and certification program which includes facial recognition. An announcement of the changes refers to the integration of modern micro e-learning techniques and enhancements to accessibility and convenience.
Part of the latter is the use of biometrics to validate and monitor participants during the final test, which they must pass to serve alcohol in Ontario. The agency’s website makes clear that the participant’s web cameras is used for ID verification and test monitoring purposes.