4 Ways NEC is Reimagining the Store Experience

NEC Showcasing Innovations at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show

Facial recognition technology and data analytics continue to change the in-store experience for shoppers. These technologies enable a more-meaningful, personalized in-store shopping experience, while also making checkout and other in-store processes more cost effective and efficient for retailers and customers alike.

From Jan. 13-15, 2019, nearly 37,000 retailers and industry experts from around the world will descend on the Javits Convention Center in New York to attend NRF 2019, the world’s largest retail conference and expo. During the Big Show, NEC will showcase how facial recognition and data analytics are transforming four areas of the store experience, including Customer Experience, Operations, Analytics and Marketing. As soon as they step into booth #1936, visitors enter a virtual store to encounter first-hand a new, improved in-store experience, resulting in better engagement for customers and tangible business benefits for retailers.

Your Face is the ‘Key’ to Unlock a Personalized Experience

When entering the NEC booth, visitors self-register by providing only a photo and first and last names. No need to use personal mobile devices, cards or keys. This frictionless, near real-time pre-registration process enables multiple touchpoints and experiences throughout the NEC booth tour.

Online shoppers appreciate the convenience of automatic loyalty offers, and NEC will demonstrate a similar in-store experience through its virtual store. Once registered, visitors are easily and automatically identified as loyal customers as they progress through the booth tour. Personalized greetings will appear while moving through the demos. Instead of waiting until checkout to ID loyal customers (when it’s too late for meaningful customer engagement), automatic identification results in 100% loyalty redemption rates for in-store shoppers.

Technology Improves In-store Operational Management

Looking Customer Loyalty Right in the Face Further, booth visitors can also interact with the face-based kiosk, which is being used by NEC customers. The facial-recognition kiosk demonstrates how easy it is to deliver fast and truly frictionless transactions. Guests can peruse a menu, choose items and then pay for their virtual purchases without pulling out their wallets or personal devices. All you need is your face!

Big Show visitors will get a glimpse into how facial recognition assists retailers with business operations. NEC’s facial recognition solutions are real-time and provide retailers with an effective, transparent loss-prevention system. As someone approaches a surveilled area, for example, alerts are triggered on the analytics dashboards.

NEC will also be showing how retailers can use this same technology to manage employees’ time and attendance. In-store staff check in and check out using face recognition, thus preventing proxy check in and check out. Near real-time reporting is available with this system so that schedules can be easily coordinated.

Check out NEC Retail solutions to learn more.Additionally, visitors will have the opportunity to experience first-hand various models of NEC’s industry-leading point-of-sale hardware devices.

Booth “shoppers” can experience easy and deviceless checkout as well. Total expenditures and receipts show up on the wallboard next to the exit. No wallets or credit cards needed for this automated checkout experience.

Retailers Rely on Data Analytics to Tailor the Shopping Experience

For retail businesses, the ability to access up-to-the-minute sales data analytics helps them survive and thrive in this competitive marketplace. Reliable sales data and reporting enable retailers to make tailored in-store offers to their customers. Sales data aids in managing inventory plus helps store managers more effectively plan staffing, especially during critical times of high traffic. These benefits in turn elevate the customer shopping experience and help boost profitability in the store.

Analytics can also be used to track demographic and traffic data related to in-store shoppers. Stores have the capability to create heat maps to track and manage shoppers’ interest in various products or displays within the store. Advanced glance technology determines the amount of “dwell time” on items (such as a shelf display) by tracking interest and intent to purchase. This data can be matched to sales conversion data from the POS to judge the display’s effectiveness and use of shelf space.

The data gleaned from the in-person shopping experience helps retailers improve their outreach through targeted emails, app notifications and even in-store messaging.

Facial Recognition Software and Advanced Displays Expand In-store Marketing Capabilities

Using facial recognition systems aids retailers in recognizing repeat customers at a location without collecting any personally identifiable information. This information drives marketing content and analyzes purchase patterns.

NEC’s advanced display technology helps retailers improve their marketing efforts. Cameras capture customer data to be used for customized content distribution and for measuring message effectiveness. The technology also collects audience metrics automatically.

Want to know more about the exciting and industry-leading technology that NEC will be featuring at NRF 2019? Book a personal tour with an NEC retail expert while you’re attending the Big Show. Hope to see you there in January!

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Changing the Face of Airport Security

Have you noticed an uptick of facial recognition news lately? We have.

More specifically, airports and the federal agencies that govern entry and exit procedures are seeing success using facial recognition technology at border entry and exit checkpoints.

Airports have always designated security as a high priority. Security screening is probably the most important step in the traveler’s journey and typically means waiting in long lines. However, keeping air travel safe doesn’t have to mean making the customer experience more cumbersome than it has to be.

With facial recognition software, airport security personnel are able to speed up the identity verification process while still maintaining accurate results and a higher level of security. Not only can passengers be on their way more quickly, but security personnel are able to focus more attention to addressing other potential and actual threats.

Discover ways Advanced Recognition Systems can transform airport transportation.

Speeding up Border Checkpoints

The accurate identification of passengers entering and exiting the United States is a critical step in secure immigration and customs processing at our international airports. Entry and exit checkpoints can be long and stressful. Facial recognition technology provides a quicker, more accurate, more secure—and more pleasant— experience for everyone.

The software compares images captured at the airport in real time to a government stored photo taken from a passport, thus reducing time spent in the queue while also making it safer for all travelers. Using this process, faster lines at U.S. entry and exit points doesn’t mean sacrificing security.

After implanting facial recognition technology, within a span of just 40 days, officials at Washington Dulles International Airport have identified and processed three would-be imposters trying to enter the country illegally. Initial screening, using facial recognition developed by NEC, allowed agents to determine that the travelers’ faces captured at the point of entry did not match the face provided on the presented passport.

Why NEC?

Securing airport screening and streamlining border entry and exit checkpoints are just two ways NEC is changing the face of airport security and enhancing the passenger experience.

NEC’s portfolio of biometric solutions includes facial recognition, video surveillance, analytics, intrusion detection, and other security applications. Other airport-related uses include passenger conveniences—such as check in, bag drops, entertainment, boarding, retail shopping and baggage claim. Backed by 45 years of experience, NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems offers scalable, end-to-end solutions that secure our borders and improve public safety.

NEC’s world-renowned facial recognition technology is currently utilized by 17 airport for biometric entry and exit helping to address today’s national security challenges.

Contact us to speak with one of our biometric experts or visit us online for more information.

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Celebrating 25 Years Championing The NEC Masters

Advancing human potential is engrained into NEC’s corporate culture. We have a rich and established legacy of contributing to society as a whole. Since the company was founded in 1899, our commitment to innovation has resulted in many socially beneficial firsts aimed at improving the way people live, work and communicate.

Creating social worth by helping people to live richer, more fulfilling lives is even clearly conveyed by our company’s principal brand – Orchestrating a brighter world.

NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters 2018NEC’s involvement with the International Tennis Federation’s Wheelchair Tennis Master also exemplifies the company’s dedication to advancing human potential.

Since this sporting event’s inception in 1994, NEC has been the title sponsor of the Wheelchair Tennis Masters and has worked enthusiastically with organizers, players and supporters to champion the event.

From November 28 through December 2 and for the first time at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida, the International Tennis Federation’s season-ending championship for the world’s top singles on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour will take place. The top eight men’s and women’s singles players and the top six quad singles players will compete.

Join us in celebrating 25 years championing The NEC Masters and the accomplishments of the event’s gifted athletes.

Explore this inspiring sporting event with videos, images, a brief history of NEC involvement and so much more here.

Exploring the Diverse World of Biometrics at AFIS 2018

Our 32nd Annual AFIS Internet Users Conference, held in Reston, VA, was a highly successful event. It brought together professionals from around the globe, and with its proximity to our nation’s capital, we were pleased to host a number of our Federal clients as well. Together, we explored opportunities and issues impacting the public safety and law enforcement community in the near and long term future. In this time of digital transformation, attendees learned more about new techniques in forensics, experienced the latest in identification technology solutions, and how biometrics and AI can help provide a more secure, convenient and frictionless experiences for all of us.

This year’s conference was enhanced by dynamic speakers from U.S. and international law enforcement agencies (e.g. Toronto Police Services) and U.S. Federal government agencies discussing their use of biometrics and analytics technologies in meeting their challenges and success stories.

Our keynote speaker, none other than Secretary Tom Ridge, the First Secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former Governor of Pennsylvania, kicked off the three-day event discussing the evolution of our country’s security profile, the role technology plays in securing our borders, and the trends impacting local, regional and state public safety officers and investigators.

In parallel, NEC showcased its latest identification technologies that are helping federal, state and local agencies with new ways to solve crimes, predict threats, capture data, improve public safety and security. Some of the highlights include:

  • Interactive expertly guided tenprint workshops with hands-on experience with NEC’s Integra-ID® iBW, the latest in fingerprint technology processing
  • eGate Solution for Airport and NeoFace® Express showed how frictionless identification can simplify and enhance a passengers experience while increasing security
  • NEC Enhanced Video Analytics (EVA) represents the latest biometric and video analytics technology allowing for instant detection, identification and tracking of suspicious individuals in a crowd
  • NeoFace® Reveal and SmartScan exhibits gave an up-close and personal encounter for many AFIS Internet members as they transition to facial recognition disciplines in addition to fingerprint and tenprint identification work

One of the highlights of the conference is the opportunity to network and socialize with other like-minded professionals who are facing the same issues and daily challenges. The Winery at Bull Run was a unique venue that provided a fun atmosphere of comradery for our two groups!

The conference closed with the 2018 AFIS Awards Banquet. This was a time to recognize the newly elected AFIS Internet, Inc. Executive Board and to honor recipients of the AFIS Internet 2018 “Biometric Hit of the Year Award.” Deputy Norman Kandil with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office was recognized for his use of the new Facial Recognition program on a theft case that not only resulted in the arrest of the unknown suspect; it also took the Detective down an unknown path that ultimately lead to the conviction and sentencing of two additional suspects. Hector Hernandez with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office received the award for his work as a Latent Print Examiner on a human smuggling transport case resulting in the death of 10 immigrants. Other agencies were unable to identify the tenth victim, but Hector was able to get an impressive Print (Finger) hit to positively identify the last victim. Congratulations to all, with our sincere gratitude for your service!

I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the AFIS Internet Board and our host agencies, the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, for their dedication and tireless efforts in organizing this conference.

This year’s AFIS Executive Board, Host Agencies and volunteers did a fantastic job of providing relevant topics, with outstanding speakers who engaged, educated and inspired us.

We now look forward to 2019 and hope you will plan to join us next August 25-28 in Scottsdale, AZ. Meanwhile, you can check out or relive the excitement by viewing our photo gallery or our AFIS 2018 recap video.

AFIS Internet Conference 2018

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Don’t Unplug That Server! Fault-Tolerant Streaming With ClearCaster

Learn why pulling the plug doesn’t stop streaming with the Wowza ClearCaster appliance.

Recently, I was supporting our CEO, Dave Stubenvoll, by providing an onsite customer demonstration of the Wowza ClearCaster™ appliance. Suddenly, right in the middle of our session, Dave intentionally pulled the 120-volt power cord from the unit.

While maintaining composure, on the inside, I was freaking out! In my mind, I screamed, “Dave, why would you do that?!”

What I didn’t yet realize was that the Wowza ClearCaster device is designed to automatically resume streaming when power is restored. This incident, while terrifying, actually showcased the resiliency of our ClearCaster hardware, and how it can consistently recover from a power outage.

The Fault-Tolerant Server Keeps Going, and Going…

In most instances, removing power—or disrupting a physical server in any capacity—is a very bad idea. Candidly, even having witnessed the ability of our branded hardware to recover from loss of power, the idea of showing that off in an on-site demo makes me a little nervous. Most of us in the industry shy away from “messing around” with a server once it’s up and running.

My friend, Richie Murray with Bridge Digital, would certainly disagree with me. Over a period of months, I had been running into Richie at various industry events, where he kept trying to get me excited me about a “fault-tolerant server” that he was convinced would be perfect for streaming. He claimed to have this device that would “keep on going” when any primary component became compromised during operation.

It sounded like a great idea, but I wasn’t sold. Prior to working with ClearCaster, I’ve worked with people all over the world, in every aspect of the industry, and have never encountered a situation where a media server could be compromised, yet “keep on going.”

Video streaming is complex and resource-intensive. The thought of a server maintaining a transcoding and packaging workflow—to a maximum scale—while losing a hard disk, power supply or motherboard component sounded very far-fetched to me. But then again, Richie is a stand-up guy, and I realized he may be onto something.

I agreed to meet with Richie and his team to help them set up a test server. We established a simple transcoding workflow, using Wowza Streaming Engine™ media server software, and commenced testing the fault-tolerance of their device.

The NEC Express 5800 fault-tolerant server is a 2RU device that is essentially two servers in one box. Every component of the device is perfectly replicated by a accompanying, redundant spare, resulting in two functioning, logical sections that operate as one. Interestingly, there’s no advanced configuration required, since it looks and feels like a single server—with the key difference that you can physically remove half of the server hardware while your video streaming workflow is running, and it doesn’t skip a beat.

Impressed, but not convinced, I decided to up up the ante. I thought perhaps we got lucky with the fault-tolerant server handing a simple single-stream workflow; what will it do under a “real” video-streaming workload?

Requesting time on the server, I scheduled another session to configure several internal source streams using the Wowza StreamPublisher. I also made sure the central processing unit (CPU), network and memory were all up to around 80 percent utilization, tasked with recording (MP4 and nDVR), heavy transcoding, and HTTP packaging into HLS and DASH. With the server under heavy load, I called Richie (snickering to myself) and asked him to compromise the device.

It didn’t skip a beat.

Redundant Streaming Workflows, Simplified

I don’t know how they did it, but NEC has built a device that will, in my opinion, function as an optimal solution to bolster an on-premise media server deployment where a single point of failure is a risk. Having helped countless Wowza users design redundant workflows, this architecture is perfect for a situation when multiple servers are not practical, but where a redundant server is required.

What I like even more about this is the simplicity. The setup is exactly the same as a single server, but again, with the fault-tolerance engineered into the hardware itself.

If you’re considering an on-premise deployment; have concern over a single-server point of failure; and don’t have the experience, time or resources to build out an elaborate failover workflow, consider the NEC solution, available from a Bridge Digital. Installing Wowza Streaming Engine was simple, and the outcome was exactly as expected.

With plenty of resources for a standard streaming deployment, this is a fantastic hardware solution. Take it from me: I tried really hard to break it, using all the Wowza tricks in the book, and I failed miserably. Can’t ask for much more than that!

Tim Dougherty is the Director of Solution Engineering at Wowza Media Systems, based in Golden, Colo. A user technology expert, with more than 20 years of experience in IT, network administration, video production, and project/program management, Tim serves Wowza by helping customers visualize and integrate effective streaming media solutions.

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