(Alex Greig) Facial recognition technology is being developed to track and target customers
- Many retailers currently use the technology to identify shoplifters
- The National Telecommunications & Information Administration is meeting in Washington D.C. next week to begin developing a ‘voluntary, enforceable code of conduct
Retail stores and other businesses may soon use facial recognition technology to identify and track big spenders.
Many retailers already use the technology to identify known shoplifters when they enter stores. Companies such as FaceFirst provide email or text notifications to alert business owners to known thieves.
Now, many companies are working on adding a new service in addition to security – boosting sales by tracking and targeting big-spending customers.
Instant recognition: Facial recognition technology makes an equation based on your facial features, like a fingerprint
UK-based NEC IT Solutions is already being used in several top stores around the U.S. to identify celebrities and valued customers.
When a valued customer enters the store, staff are sent vital information about them, including their name, clothing size, favorite brands and purchase history.
FaceFirst currently protects businesses from shoplifters.
‘Just load existing photos of your known shoplifters, members of organized retail crime syndicates, persons of interest and your best customers into FaceFirst,’ a marketing pitch on the company’s site explains.
‘Instantly, when a person in your FaceFirst database steps into one of your stores, you are sent an email, text or SMS alert that includes their picture and all biographical information of the known individual so you can take immediate and appropriate action.’
Joseph Rosenkrantz, chief executive of FaceFirst, told The New York Times that he envisions stores using the system to recognize shoppers and send personalized offers to their phones.
However, he says retailers should seek permission from customers before adding them to any kind of database.
Valued customer: Tech companies are developing facial recognition systems that recognize big spenders and regular customers
Security: Facial recognition is employed in some retail stores to alert staff when known shoplifters enter the store
Technology experts and consumer advocates are meeting to discuss just that in the first of a series of meetings concerning the technology in Washington D.C. on February 6.
The National Telecommunications & Information Administration will to develop a ‘voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology in the commercial context’ in the meetings.
‘Commercial facial recognition technology has the potential to provide important benefits and to support a new wave of technological innovation,’ John Verdi, the agency’s director of privacy initiatives told the New York Times, ‘but it also poses consumer privacy challenges.’
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