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Facial recognition and authentication in retail: reduce waits, staff and maybe privacy

Facial recognition and authentication in retail: reduce waits, staff and maybe privacy

“Facial recognition technologies are the simplest way to dramatically reduce wait times,” writes the manager for biometrics at HID. While he believes the negatives of facial recognition are largely dealt with and the technology can now improve experiences for shoppers and staff, use cases in Australia are continuing to prove problematic.

Cut lines to cut losses: HID on in-store face biometrics

In a think piece for Retail TouchPoints, HID Managing Director of Biometrics for Extended Access Technologies Vito Fabbrizio argues that facial recognition could help reinvigorate retail by providing a seamless, secure shopping experience that speeds up checkout to cut waiting times. HID would no doubt be happy to supply any necessary hardware.

Automatically identifying customers will accelerate payment and also “help retailers discreetly personalize their shopping experience. It’s an opportunity to advertise relevant products to the right customers to increase sales and create unique VIP experiences,” writes Fabbrizio.

Identifying customers, rather than just receiving payment, will also help reduce credit card fraud. “Facial recognition makes it easier for retailers to manage workforce productivity,” writes Fabbrizio, meaning retailers can make savings by reducing staffing.

Speaking of staff, facial recognition can also allow faster and more secure logging in and out of POS systems by employees, prevent buddy punching for attendance and control access to staff-only areas.

Fabbrizio argues that the decision by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to use facial recognition in its Simplified Arrival Program was for speed and simplicity. He writes that CBP has committed to expanding the service to confirm at least 97 percent of international passengers with facial recognition by the end of this year.

Tyme kiosks to integrate face biometric PopPay from PopID

PopPay, the facial verification system from biometrics fintech firm PopID, is being integrated into Tyme’s kiosks for self-checkouts in restaurants and drive-thrus. It will offer more than just payment, as face verification to “check in” at a kiosk will also allow restaurants to serve up personalized recommendations such as favorite orders or modifications.

Kiosks will continue to accept traditional payment forms. They are in use in outlets including Soma Eats, Wahlburgers and Gambino’s.

“We are able to offer this personalized and revolutionary seamless customer experience through a simple software update,” comments Tyme Co-founder and COO Omar Boukottaya.

“Biometric check in and biometric check out features can increase ticket size, speed, and loyalty engagement of restaurant operators. Together, we are taking the restaurant ordering customer journey to new heights.”

John Miller, CEO of PopID and parent Cali Group points to reducing jobs to cut costs: “Rising labor costs have resulted in restaurant operators across America adopting Tyme self-ordering kiosks.”

The news follows the integration of PopID’s mobile app for face biometric payments with POS software on Samsung kiosks. PopID said its service encourages customers to spend 4.5 percent more when presented with an item related to previous orders.

Australia’s Woolworths serves fresh controversy with AI self-checkouts

After trials, Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has expanded its use of AI-enabled overhead cameras at self-service checkouts to 110 stores in three states, reports The Guardian. While the chain claims they help detect errors with item scanning, critics say the process gives a sense of constant surveillance.

The cameras record the self-checkout session. If the software monitoring the feed detects a potential scanning error, the checkout notifies the customer and plays back on the checkout screen the footage of the potential error and requests a re-scan.

It seems the system recognizes the products in view and if, for example, a customer has weighed and labelled fresh produce as a cheaper item, this will be detected.

Footage is kept for staff training, but faces are blurred and the card reader PIN pad blacked out.

Rights groups say the approach is leading to a normalization of surveillance and treats every customer as a suspect while cutting jobs. Consumer groups are calling for legislative change and want to take the Privacy Act review as an opportunity to press for the introduction of a duty of care for business in their use of customer data.

Date set for Kmart and Bunnings facial recognition probe

Australian supermarket chains Kmart and Bunnings suspended their use of facial recognition trials last year when the privacy commissioner investigated whether they were compliant with privacy law and customers mounted a backlash.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has “substantially progressed” the investigation, reports ITNews, and it could be resolved by the end of June.

A further investigation into appliance retailer Good Guys and its use of facial recognition technology in stores has been dropped as the firm stopped its use of the technology and stated it would not resume it. However, ITNews reports that Good Guys has previously said it would only suspend its use of facial recognition until the OAIC probe is complete.

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