Retail Executive

JAN-FEB 2018

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object and scene detection, sentiment analysis, and event detection. Facial recognition is a subdomain of comput- er vision. Consider facial recognition as a biometric way of identifying a person. Just as everyone has unique fin- gerprints, everyone has a unique faceprint. A system cap- tures a live image of a person and compares it to stored images and returns a match percentage. When a comput- er looks at a picture, it sees numbers and blocks and val- ues represented in grayscale. Each person has a unique faceprint, or pixel pattern, that will allow a computer to identify that person." To prove facial recognition technology, Kesha's team was asked to brainstorm ways it could be used in restaurants. They imagined Chick-fil-A team members might eventually be able to clock in to their shift just by looking at a screen. And eventually, they envisioned a world where customers could even be greeted by name using this technology. Yum China, for example, has al- ready implemented similar technology. According to the Wall Street Journal, Yum China executives state that digital initiatives aren't about cutting labor costs but about getting data that leads to improved logistics for food delivery and deeper insight into customers' pref- erences. As with Chick-fil-A, technology figures heavily into Yum China's strategy. The company has partnered with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Finan- cial to offer its "smile to pay" system at the KPRO in Hangzhou, Alibaba's headquarters city, which serves as a testing area for new technology and menu items. It's reported that customers go to a self-serve kiosk to choose items on a video screen, then pay by looking at a camera, provided they've enabled facial recognition on their Alipay app. For security, they must also enter their phone number. Domestically, while facial recognition technology will eventually disrupt the mobile payment field, more work must and will be done to prevent pay- ment and identity fraud. acial recognition isn't a brand-new tech- nology. Casinos and law enforcement, for example, have been using facial recognition for safety and security purposes for years. And while facial recognition isn't new to the retail industry either, it is being leveraged outside loss prevention as a beneficial way to improve customer engagement, marketing, advertising, and more. Privacy concerns are hefty, and, as a result, some retailers are gun-shy about incorporating facial recognition into their businesses, while some others don't know what they don't know about the technology. Yet, internation- al acceptance is escalating quickly; MarketsandMar- kets estimates sales of facial recognition software and equipment were $2.8 billion worldwide last year and forecasts they will increase to $6.19 billion by 2020. Rest assured, the technology is gaining steam domestically by the day. Just ask Apple. F A CIAL RE C OGNITION FUND AMENT ALS Not all retail executives have backgrounds in computer science and math or a Master in Information Systems to aid them in their pursuit of business-changing technolo- gies, which is why they build their teams to include peo- ple who do. One such executive is Kesha Williams, who began her career with the NSA more than 20 years ago and is currently a software engineer in Chick-fil-A's cor- porate IT department, leading innovation teams as they research new technologies that can be applied to restau- rant operations. "At the very highest level is computer vi- sion, which is a field of artificial intelligence and comput- er science that gives computers a visual understanding of the world," Williams explains. "That means the computer can look at a picture or an image and extract attributes or information from that image. There are several com- ponents of computer vision, such as facial recognition, ONCE PRIV A C Y AND SE CURIT Y C ONCERNS AND KINKS IN THE TE CHNOL OG Y ARE O VER C OME , F A CIAL RE C OGNITION TE CHNOL OG Y WILL CHANGE RE T AIL . RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 19

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