A Dresden, Germany based company, Cognitec which touts itself as the market leader for "face recognition technologies and applications for enterprise and government customers" recently rolled out its latest product called "FaceVACS-VideoScan" a video screening and analysis technology. The Orwellian overtones to its potential uses notwithstanding, the device promises to revolutionize businesses in a number of areas from security to operations and marketing.
A review of FaceVACS, by Planetbiometrics,a website devoted to news from the "fast-moving biometrics industry" notes that analyzing the data "over time allows the software to compute
people count, demographical information, people movement in time and
space, and to detect frequent visitors and crowds."
The biometric journal goes on to suggest that, for instance,
operators in a variety of customer-interface situations across industries, " can receive an alarm if too many people gather in a specific
area and measure waiting times to direct traffic. The analysis of
traffic patterns and demographical statistics over long periods of time
can provide businesses with precise visitor data to make interior
design, advertising placement, staffing and other operational decisions."
The implications for hotels and airlines, should the device be effectively deployed and used in the check-in process and for hotels in restaurants and banquets appears considerable. Secondly, in these two industries the security enhancements that presumably can be brought about are also tremendous as it promises to detect and prevent unwanted behaviour in
much faster and more efficient ways as security personnel can receive alerts on mobile devices to act within
the immediate vicinity of a suspect. Addtionally, real-time
identification of authorized individuals or high-ranking customers can
prompt access to restricted areas or alert personnel to provide special
treatment. The latter foretells a rich menu of options for establishments catering to high rollers for example by enabling instant acknowledgement and access to premium areas.
Along the lines of the foregoing, the Financial Times has an interesting report on a "Live Lab" situated in Singapore that was developed by professors at Singapore Management University. The Singaporean government invites its consumers to "opt
into" the service using their mobile phones in three high traffic/high end locations locations in the city state. For instance, the scheme would cause participating consumers to receive real time pings on their mobile devices whilst they are in a store or other retail establishment that may point to offers specific to what they are looking at.
Given the intrinsically intrusive nature of the Singapore project it is probably an idea that can only develop legs in a country famous for its ability to monitor its citizenry. Nevertheless, it offers up a slew of marketing possibilities that could gin up sales in any number of departments in most service industries.