Kiosk Marketplace
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Smile! 3D facial recognition is raising kiosk value

It’s great to be recognized, isn’t it? One of the most iconic of all American sitcom themes celebrated a place “where everybody knows your name.” But it’s even better when they know your face — and in countries around the world, consumers are eagerly using retail kiosks embedded with 3D facial recognition to confirm their identities and improve their shopping experience.

3D technology is changing the way we interact with retail. Wherever you look, from inventory robots to customer research, sales displays, even virtual fitting rooms and store security, 3D imaging is creating a retail future that’s more efficient and profitable. Today, 3D cameras are about the size of an AA battery and can instantly recognize objects, environments and people with split second accuracy.

Paired with other devices, 3D cameras can be used to create a new virtual sales experience, with machine integration costing no more than the price of a good 2D digital camera. The most ubiquitous use for 3D in retail will be at the checkout. Kiosks with 3D facial authentication will make transactions faster and more secure, enhance loyalty programs and help to comply with local ordinances and regulations.

Despite the common use of facial recognition in Asia, some countries, including the United States, have privacy concerns that have slowed the technology’s deployment. In a transactional environment, security is the top concern, and depth sensing cameras can deliver financial grade security with just a map of your face.

Facial recognition, using 3D cameras, shines through the collection of more data points compared to fingerprint scanning, providing a much higher level of security than keypad entry and depth perception. 3D cameras capture the exact geometric information and contours of the user’s face without being affected by lighting, coloring or the need for a traditional RGB camera. Facial data is stored as an encrypted mathematical model and matched to that individual’s payment account ensuring maximum privacy protection.

Payments and transactions

Even compared to modern chip readers, facial recognition is the fastest and most secure transaction validator. 3D facial recognition is very useful in high density urban areas where lifestyles are hectic. When checkout speed is critical, people want to complete their purchases as quickly and accurately as possible. At fast food restaurants, even a minute is perceived as slow.

Studies show that facial recognition functionality stems from the natural way one interacts with the device. Fingerprints, as well as passwords and other forms of data entry, require customer action and can be impossible to remember. Facial recognition is fast and tamper proof. Moreover, it allows customers to leave their credit cards and smartphones in their pockets — or even at home.

Loyalty programs

Once a customer is accurately identified, a number of customized relationship options become available. Retailers can award loyalty discounts or make free offers available on the spot to delight the shopper. Customers no longer have to bring their coupons with them either — once identified, the system will know which coupons the customer has been given.

Compliance and loss prevention

Identities that are confirmed through 3D facial recognition ensure that sales aren’t made to underage or otherwise prohibited purchasers. Some retailers have even used facial recognition to reduce fraud and theft by identifying people at checkout who have made fraudulent or partial purchases in the past.

Around the world, 3D facial recognition is advancing the usability of self-serve POS kiosk systems. It is quickly becoming the norm in China, thanks in part to Alibaba’s Alipay system, and has found its way into solutions from other vendors. 3D has only begun to move into the U.S. But given its proven popularity and business benefits, it’s a safe bet that it will please American shoppers — and bring a smile to merchant faces as well.

David Chen, Ph D. is co-founder and director of engineering for Orbbec 3D Technology International, Inc. A leading expert in 3D camera technology and a longtime advocate in the use of depth perception. David has spent nearly a decade working to fine tune the use of depth technology, finding new and innovative applications, to harness 3D, in our daily lives. He believes 3D camera technology will be the new baseline for what people expect out of their computing devices.