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Facial-Recognition Technology: Coming to a Store Near You

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 25, 2011 12:08 PM

With a mountain of data from focus groups, in-person surveys, annoying telemarketers, and online-behavior stats, brands can get to know their different demographic groups pretty intimately. Now all that info may help feed the next step in sales: facial-recognition technology.

The Los Angeles Times reports that some major brands, including Adidas and Kraft, are considering using the technology in stores to help consumers make purchase decisions, with software being developed by Intel and other tech companies.

"You can put this technology into kiosks, vending machines, digital signs," said Christopher O'Malley, director of retail marketing for Intel's embedded and communications group, according to the Times. "It's going to become a much more common thing in the next few years."

The paper reports that the Venetian resort, hotel and casino in Las Vegas uses facial recognition on digital displays in order to provide the appropriate restaurants, clubs, and entertainment to whatever consumer uses it. (God help you, of course, if you’re 22 and like to hang out in old people’s bars or 73 and have been known to run with a younger crowd.)

Japan is the current leader in commercial facial-recognition use, the Times notes, with the technology appear in retail stores, restaurants, and banks, the Times notes.

“Adidas is working with Intel to install and test digital walls with facial recognition in a handful of stores either in the U.S. or Britain,” the Times reports. With the technology, a consumer can look at the wall and be offered goods that are suited mainly to his or her demographic. The Times notes that 60% of the information put on the wall would be demographically targeted while the other 40% would be random.

"If a retailer can offer the right products quickly, people are more likely to buy something," said Chris Aubrey, vice president of global retail marketing for Adidas, the Times reports.

Meanwhile, Kraft is in discussions with a supermarket chain to use such technology in its stores to help market Kraft’s products, the Times notes. "If it recognizes that there is a female between 25 to 29 standing there, it may surmise that you are more likely to have minor children at home and give suggestions on how to spice up Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for the kids," Donald King, the company's vice president of retail experience, told the Times.

And if she just broke up with her boyfriend? Well, perhaps she’d like to spice up some comfort food for herself.


Joseph G. United States says:

Sounds like we'll be one step closer to "Minority Report" before we know it. As intriguing as it is, facial recognition technology still comes across as somewhat invasive. It may be a while before consumers warm up to the idea.

August 26, 2011 10:18 AM #

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