Retail Executive

JAN-FEB 2018

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TE CH KINKS Williams explains that while facial recognition tech- nology is the wave of the future, challenges exist with the technology. "First of all, determining the thresh- old number that really identifies a match is an issue," she explains. " What is that number that truly identi- fies a match? For example, when comparing photos of my sister and me, we have an 82 percent match. In for developers interested in facial recognition. Google has a similar offering. "These tools allow developers to quickly build and integrate computer vision and facial recognition technology into their applications," Wil- liams explains. "There are several cloud companies that offer services that allow you to plug facial recognition into your existing systems. So really it's a combination of internal development teams using cloud services al- ready on the market." R emember a f e w y e ar s a go , when the indus tr y w a s up in arms o v er whe ther c onsumer s w ould f ind per sonaliz a tion s tr a tegie s and ta c tics cr eep y? W ell, her e w e ar e , jus t a f e w y e ar s la ter with cus tomer s e xpec ting their shopping e xperienc e s to be per sonaliz ed. P arla y tha t thinking to f a cial r ec ognition. ENTER APPLE Facial recognition for retailers is one thing. But con- sider, for example, that Apple's new iPhone X, which includes Face ID (Apple's name for the technology), replaces Touch ID for unlocking the device and for mo- bile payment authentication. Just as facial recognition itself isn't new, smartphones with facial recognition software aren't new, as Samsung already uses early ver- sions of the technology. But, according to Apple, with Face ID, the chance a random person can unlock your phone using their face is 1 in a million (it's 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID). Plenty has been written about smart- phone facial recognition technology — but here's why it affects retail executives. Remember a few years ago, when the industry was up in arms over whether con- sumers would find personalization strategies and tac- tics creepy? Well, here we are, just a few years later with customers expecting their shopping experiences to be personalized. Parlay that thinking to facial rec- ognition. Yes, security and privacy concerns abound, but now that facial recognition will be in consumers' pockets, widespread acceptance is likely, and mobile payment is likely to experience adoption growth. "As a result of facial recognition and, now, Apple's Face ID, I definitely see mobile payment becoming the preferred payment option," Williams says. "The best way to en- hance security is through facial recognition — it's going to be the standard very soon." It doesn't matter whether you yourself are an Apple enthusiast. Some of your cus- tomers are. And, as facial recognition technology pro- liferates in consumers' lives via their phones, over time, they'll come to expect such computer vision technology from the retailers they frequent. that case, 82 percent seems like a high percentage, but in this case, it's too low because we're comparing photos of family members." And, so, the challenge remains — what must the match percentage be to be considered correct and secure? She states that image quality is also very important when matching a person, as image quality and poor light- ing can impact how well the matching algorithm works. "Next, consider the angle from which the picture was tak- en, as that can also impact the face matching algorithm on the back end," she explains. "It's very important to have multiple angles of a person — the front angle, the left an- gle, the right angle, etc., because the more image data you have on a person, the better the face matching algorithm will work. Some people may not realize that every time you upload a photo to Facebook, you're making Facebook smarter at identifying each person. Facebook uses facial recognition when it begins automatically tagging you and your friends when you upload a picture. Facebook has a 98 percent match percentage, which is due to the data it has access to, such as what people look like from different an- gles and in different settings. In short, the more data you have, the smarter the computer program becomes." Senior leadership teams making decisions about facial recognition technology have a lot to consider. But, per Williams, if retail executives are not considering comput- er vision and facial recognition as a part of their overall business strategy, they're already behind. Other compa- nies such as Amazon, MasterCard, and Delta, for exam- ple, are already experimenting with and actually using facial recognition in a production system. If you're not already thinking about facial recognition technology as part of your overall business strategy, it's time to start. R RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 22 By E. Harris THE FUTURE IS FACIAL RECOGNITION EXECUTIVE Exclusive retail feature

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