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Brief Published: 13 Dec 2017

Facial Recognition Tech: 2018 Could Be Crunch Year

Facial Recognition

The use of in-store facial recognition technology to target customers has moved on a step, although a welter of concerns about consumer privacy may make its broad adoption problematic. We expect it to be a talking point across retail in 2018.

In the latest move, Facebook has submitted a patent for in-store facial recognition tech that provides retail staff with customer information drawn from social media profiles, delivering a hyper-personalised service.

The biometric algorithm links to in-store cameras and matches their images of shoppers with those on Facebook in order to identify them. Retailers gather info about facially recognised shoppers via a dashboard. Facebook has also patented technology that can identify shoppers’ moods by their faces, analysing their emotions and sending push notifications to staff – see also Reflexive Retail: Live, Emotional & On-Demand.

Facial recognition technology is already used by some retailers, including American department store Saks Fifth Avenue, enabling the cross-referencing of shoplifters against databases.

Facebook is also currently trialling a log-in feature with US focus groups. Users who have forgotten their log-in details can scan their faces via smartphone cameras, with the results matched against profile images to grant access within seconds. It could be rolled out to Facebook’s two billion users (Facebook, 2017) from 2018.

But privacy legislation – as well as public wariness about data-capture technology – remains a major obstacle, with some 67% of US consumers finding facial recognition creepy (RichRelevance, 2016). Meanwhile, EU legislation is a barrier for adoption in Europe.

An ongoing American biometric privacy lawsuit is perceived as a major test case. If Facebook loses, it could have to seek users’ consent to make, use, trade and decode biometric data sets.