There have been some bizarre yet exciting developments in retail recently. First came the shock of having robot shop assistants in Lowe. But now we have a more personal prospect: facial recognition. This isn’t just walking into a small local cafe to discover the barista has memorised your name. No, this is a lot more high tech.
Companies such as Japanese technology giant NEC and California-based FaceFirst offer systems that use cameras places at shop entrances to identify customers.Joel Rosenkrantz, FaceFirst’s chief executive told BBC News,
“Someone could approach you and give you a cappuccino when you arrive, and then show you the things they think you will be interested in buying.”
However this technology does have limits. Firstly your average Joe Blogs or John Smith who walks into a shop might not get such a personalised greeting. The technology isn’t big brother; it doesn’t have a wealth of knowledge on people who have never visited the store before! Only important or existing customers get spotted.When these customers are spotted, a text message can be sent to appropriate staff members to make sure they get personal attention.
Some may also consider the use of the technology a breach of privacy. Not everyone wants to be watched for marketing purposes! Also some technology may rely on stealing personal pictures, say of Facebook fans profiles.
But fears of privacy can be bought easily it seems. Stores may offer discount coupons to customers who enroll for the face recognition technology.
The technology isn’t just for marketing though! It can also be used to identify shoplifters before they strike again.