Looking Customer Loyalty Right in the Face

Quick serve restaurant pilots NEC facial recognition technology to enhance the customer experience

Cali Group worked with global technology firm NEC Corporation of America to integrate NEC’s facial recognition technology into its CaliBurger loyalty program. The restaurant chain will use AI-enabled self-ordering kiosks to provide customers the option of immediately activating their loyalty accounts as they approach kiosks using NEC’s NeoFace® facial recognition software, eliminating the need of swiping a card or typing in identifying information.

As shown in the demo video, the loyalty account shows a customer’s favorite historical meal packages, enabling the customer to complete the ordering transaction in a matter of seconds. The kiosk pilot program is now at CaliBurger’s Pasadena location, where the Quick Serve Restaurant chain showcases new technologies developed by its parent company. If customers are pleased with the new ordering experience, the kiosks will be rolled out to CaliBurger’s global locations next year with the additional ability to allow customers to pay using their faces.

"NEC’s face recognition software technology is considered among the world’s most accurate, making it an ideal tool for retailers seeking to provide the best possible customer service and convenience for their customers," said Matt Worley, Vice President, Retail Solutions, NEC Corporation of America. "We are committed to helping Cali Group reinvent the customer experience in the best ways possible, and I encourage anyone attending NRF 2018 to come see a demonstration of the technology in action."

Download our white paper Digitizing the Shopping Journey: Building a Business Model on Never Saying “No”"Face-based loyalty significantly reduces the friction associated with loyalty program registration and use; further, it enables a restaurant chain like CaliBurger to provide a customized, one-on-one interactive experience at the ordering kiosk," said John Miller, Chairman and CEO of Cali Group. "Our goal for 2018 is to replace credit card swipes with face-based payments. Facial recognition is part of our broader strategy to enable the restaurant and retail industries to provide the same kinds of benefits and conveniences in the built world that customers experience with retailers like Amazon in the digital world."

Today, 64% of shoppers want a more fluid in-store experience – personal service without lines or waits. Give customers that kind of experience and 45% are more likely to make a purchase on the spot—even if the price tag is a bit higher.

Michael Jude
Program Manager, Data Analytics
Stratecast and Frost & Sullivan

Cali Group’s new facial recognition self-ordering kiosks will be on display at NRF 2018 | Retail’s Big Show in New York City on January 14-16 in the NEC Booth, #3153.

NEC Corporation of America

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NRF 2018: Five Trends We Think Will Transform Brick and Mortar Again

Last year, our show theme at NRF 2017 was Know Your Customer. This year, we think it’s time to use that knowledge to transform brick-and-mortar retail once again, helping it compete with online retailers.

How can in-store retailers create a frictionless, more personalized experience for their customers, while still making their own in-store processes more efficient and cost effective? At NEC we believe it’s by applying key technologies to make the entire store more customer-aware.

Here are five of those technologies we expect to see on display at NRF 2018.

#1 Data and data analytics in full swing

Think about it. Big online retailers seem to know more about you than you do.
They know what to show you and recommend to you, what you’ve looked at, “liked” or bought before—even what you’re likely to want next. By crunching all that collected data with demographics, preferences and social media data, they can predict what shoppers will best respond to.

Why shouldn’t brick-and-mortar retailers collect, analyze and apply the data available to them to tailor the in-store customer experience, too? After all, everything else being the same, there’s still nothing quite like an in-person shopping experience. And analytics can help retailers better tailor their outreach—via emails, app notifications, even in-store messaging—to bring customers back into the store.

#2 Loyalty programs enhanced by facial recognition

Face it – technology can also help with building and retaining loyal customers, by making rewards program more effective and personal.

Using facial recognition technology, for example, a retailer can identify a frequent shopper or loyalty member as soon as they enter the store. Store clerks are able to greet them by name and make suggestions based on past purchases. And later, at checkout, you can automatically apply loyalty rewards and special savings, based on their status.

#3 In-store digital signage becomes customer aware

Digital signage is nothing new in retail, but when paired with facial recognition and big data analytics, it can become customer aware. That means shelf tags and screens can display messages or ads to the nearest customer, calling attention to nearby items or specials that past behavior indicates might appeal to that customer.

But smart signage can also utilize object recognition to enhance the customer experience. This technology can detect when the shopper picks up an item (or puts it back) and direct the signage to display personalized information. For example, more product information, available options, upsell ads, or even warning about potential allergic reactions—and make alternate recommendations.

#4 Chatbots with AI and AR help both customers and staff

What if a coffeemaker needs a filter change or a checkout printer needs the ink cartridge replaced? Little things like this can bring operations to a halt, and in turn affect how well associates take care of their customers.

Instead waiting on a repair, a store associate could quickly use a tablet at the malfunction to virtually chat with a robot (artificial intelligence) about how to fix the issue. Augmented reality (AR) can even show the associate how to get the device back up and running “live”—so they can get back to serving customers.
Shoppers could benefit directly from AI/AR chatbots, too. Pointing a smartphone at an item, the chatbot could answer questions, show the customer what’s size and colors are in stock, even show the shopper wearing the items before trying it on. Of course, a chatbot can also summon an associate over to help them personally.

#5 POS and check out becomes fast, easy and automatic

And let’s forget not the checkout experience. For single-item and multi-item purchases, using biometrics and object recognition-augmented POS systems allow for an efficient, frictionless checkout experience.

How would this work? Using both facial and object recognition, the POS solution identifies both the shopper and the items as she puts them on the counter. The system quickly totals the bill—applying the appropriate discounts and rewards based on the shopper’s loyalty status—and the customer pays with a mere glance at the camera. Now that’s convenient for the customer—and efficient for the store, too.

Which technology trend will be the winner this year?

Do you see five separate technologies in our NRF 2018 predictions—or one huge opportunity for transforming brick-and-mortar retail once again?
In each of our scenarios, it’s difficult to see these applications as separate technologies. At NEC, we think the key is unifying them to make the whole store customer-aware, from end-to-end.

At NRF 2018, you’ll see how our retail and advanced recognition solutions work together, to provide more efficient store operations, and for customers, a seamless, frictionless and more personalized experience.

True, technology helps retailers get shoppers in-and-out of the store more quickly—if that’s what they want. But more importantly, NEC retail solutions allow them to spend more time enjoying the actual shopping experience. And isn’t a personal, in-store experience what brick-and-mortar retail has that online shopping simply can’t provide?

Register today to receive a free pass to NRF 2018, Retail’s Big Event

As Seen on TV: NEC Provides Powerful Crime Solving Face Recognition Software to Law Enforcement

If you’re a fan of any of the detective shows available on television and streaming services, you’ve probably seen an episode or two where a crucial part of solving the fictional crime is using face-recognition software to identify potential suspects. It’s the digital version of an old-fashioned police lineup. The scenario usually involves detectives finding an old photo or obtaining some grainy security camera footage of a suspect. They turn it over to a colleague in a crime lab, where the photograph or video is quickly processed to identify the subject.

While it may not work exactly as seen in the movies or on a television crime drama, this type of digital matching technology is very real and in use today. With more people having camera equipped cell phones and individuals and business installing surveillance cameras, the amount of available video evidence that can be used to solve crimes has greatly increased. Not having the ability to leverage security video footage and photo evidence can be costly and time consuming for law enforcement departments with limited resources and heavy case loads.

NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems (ARS) group has a long history of providing the latest biometrics technology to government customers like our NeoFace® Reveal software, NEC’s high-speed matching facial recognition system. When it was independently evaluated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NEC’s NeoFace® algorithm achieved the highest performance evaluation as the most accurate face recognition solution on the market for “one-to-many” video searching.

Watch the video to see how NEC’s ARS group worked with the City of Irving Police Department on a deployment of NEC’s NeoFace® Reveal facial recognition software, which has resulted in high success rates in providing fast, accurate suspect identification intelligence. It has led to increased public safety and decreases in departmental costs by saving detective man hours and reducing the need for added personnel.

Want to learn more about Advanced Recognition Solutions from NEC? Let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

NEC Corporation of America

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Marketplace Buzz at SpiceWorld 2017

Image Source: Spiceworks

“So How Can We Really Secure Our Network?”

Network security seemed to be at the top of everyone’s minds this year at the SpiceWorld 2017 Expo–how to protect your critical operations and secure your data. While we were demonstrating fault tolerant (FT) high availability servers in the NEC booth at the Expo, we met with IT pros from around the globe and had the opportunity to show more than 100 demos, and hear first-hand what’s at the top of many IT worry lists.

Repeatedly, concerns were voiced that if large Multi-National Enterprises (MNE’s) with seemingly endless resources and (we’re told) "top tier network security" can be hacked, then where does that leave smaller and mid-tier organizations?

The big question was “How do we protect our data, and make sure our business is disaster-proof?” What practices can we put into place for an actual worry-free, easy to manage IT environment?

Some specific topics that emerged were:

  1. Doing More With Less Many were interested in exploring how we can better secure our networks, and simplify our server storage administration, and still meet infrastructure needs with minimal cost. Organizations want to see a single solution to address backups, archive data, meet requirements for encryption and deliver a mechanism to move data offsite. These worries inevitably led to talks about HYDRAstor®, an award winning high-speed tier 2 data repository that will simplify administration, and save both time and money while addressing these needs.
  2. Disaster Recovery (DR) There was willingness to take a hard look at what we can do to deploy a reliable and cost effective recovery strategy—which is when the FT servers and the NEC IT ecosystem were of major interest. These kind of conversations about DR usually led to a predominant theme that week, about ways to protect our data from external attacks, like from cryptolocker, etc., and how we can efficiently replicate data off-site for DR and for business continuity purposes.
  3. Securing End Points and Mobility  Part of securing your network means not allowing your system to become vulnerable to letting viruses in. This defensive mode also touches on the deploying of technologies that secure all your end points, like smart phones, desktops/laptops, and protecting your remote and mobile work force.
  4. High Costs of Critical Ops Downtime Several manufacturing businesses recognized the value add of the fault tolerant (FT) server as it relates to the high costs of downtime, especially for avoidance of any assembly line disruption, application inconsistency or data log collection for legal purposes. We discussed the very real damages that can occur as result from a manufacture’s lack of ability to demonstrate product quality consistency through the production process. In manufacturing, it’s important to prove that data logs are collected, without interruption, so there is 100% data consistency and no chance of missing information. Yes, time is money, but so are production errors, especially when mistakes are really not acceptable–and evidence is needed to demonstrate as much.

It became very apparent that data security and ways to safeguard business continuity is a hot button right now. If some of these worries are keeping you up at night like so many at SpiceWorld this year, please check out the smart NEC data storage and operational resiliency solutions. This is real, proven data security, folks–solutions that can deliver some serious peace of mind.

To keep up with us on the latest at NEC, please join us on our NEC Spiceworks page.

For more information and to discuss your IT needs, feel free to reach out to NEC. Just let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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Six huge take-aways from the Federal Identity Forum in Washington, DC

People who know me will tell you that I’m an enthusiastic and optimistic person. It’s hard to get me down. If you see me at an industry event or tradeshow, I’m usually pumped up about something.

But even for me, this year’s Federal Identity Forum & Exposition (FedID 17), held September 12-14 in Washington, D.C., genuinely got me more excited for our industry than I’ve been in several years.

Formerly known as the Biometric Consortium Conference (BCC) and the Global Identity Summit (GIS) , the newly branded FedID is the U.S. federal government’s primary outreach and collaboration-building event with the worldwide identity community. The event has evolved over the years through a post-9/11 biometric boom to a slowdown in deployments, and now to a time when our industry is once again seeing a greater push toward mass adoption of identity matching technology.

NEC showcased its world-class biometrics solutions for multiple federal audiences and departments. We spanned a wide range of biometric technology, including fingerprint, face recognition, video surveillance and analysis, multimodal biometric enrollment, mobile fingerprint and forensic analysis. Where biometric identification is concerned, we had something for everyone.

This brings me to a list of favorites I’m calling the “six huge take-aways from FedID 17.” Here we go.

  1. Face is the Future – Nearly everyone who came to our booth wanted to see NeoFace Express, which is our rapid-access face recognition system. Express is currently being tested at major airports by U.S. Customers and Border Protection for the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Exit pilot program. Biometric Exit is the federal government’s way of tracking outgoing international travelers so that U.S. officials can get a better picture of how many non-Americans are overstaying their travel visas.Conversations I had with people who saw the demo agreed that face recognition, when executed with a high degree of accuracy and precision, is the security technology of the immediate future. It’s fast and frictionless, it’s accurate, and it can help increase efficiency in airports where we all agree that faster queuing times are a good thing. That makes me excited.

  2. Apple’s Face ID is a Victory for the Identity Industry – Apple’s big fall product launch event coincided with the first day of FedID 17, and as I said in my panel talk that same day, I think the Apple iPhone X Face ID feature is going to be great for our industry. Assuming the technology typically works as well as it did the second time Apple’s Phil Schiller attempted to demo the feature, and I assume it will, people will ultimately adopt face recognition as a lawful and acceptable security form. As my friend Peter O’Neill at FindBiometrics pointed out, our industry saw a huge push in fingerprint ID acceptance when the Touch ID scanner was introduced on the iPhone 5S. Expect iPhone X to do the same for face.

  3. Robust Testing is Critical – In most of the conversations I had about face recognition at FedID, there typically came a time when someone said of face recognition, “Yes, I agree, but it’s got to work.” It seems like an obvious statement, but those of us in the industry can all agree that achieving a high degree of accuracy and performance for a face recognition algorithm takes a lot of hard work, investment, and patience. Federal officials require that any technology they use for biometric identity is accurate and responsive enough to return a match in less than 2 seconds, often times milliseconds. Lucky for NEC, our NeoFace algorithm is the consistent top performer in performance testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

  4. Humans Are Important – Perhaps this is another obvious statement, but there are actually two ways that human intervention is absolutely integral to the success of any identity matching technology. After all, we are talking about protecting people’s personal freedoms at multiple levels here.For starters, face recognition and today’s more advanced identity matching algorithms are actually a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and they must be taught how to identify people in a wide array of conditions. That means we (the humans) have to teach it (the technology) about adverse lighting conditions, a wide diversity in facial features, shades, anomalies and shapes, odd capture angles, and many other factors, in order to achieve a higher degree of matching accuracy. We know this from more than 40 years of experience in developing identity matching technology.

    Secondly, any biometric technology, whether it’s fingerprint, iris or face recognition, will never be 100 percent accurate all of the time. Having a living, breathing, well-trained human being present to handle exceptions and errors in any automated identity matching process is critical to the long-term success of biometric technology. Just as fingerprinting has been around for more than 100 years in law enforcement, responsible and ethical use by humans will be key for biometric identity matching to be around for the next 100.

  5. Federal Officials are Moving Ahead – Obviously the world is not yet fully on-board with using biometric identity matching at every major checkpoint or public event, but it’s clear to me that the federal government is headed toward mass adoption at multiple levels. From the CBP Biometric Exit pilots to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s use of handheld fingerprint scanners and beyond, we haven’t seen the last of biometrics being deployed in our daily lives.

  6. Privacy is Important – It’s hard to talk about identity without addressing privacy in the same breath, and that was certainly the case in most of my conversations at FedID. People generally have concerns about privacy, specifically how long the government can retain biometric data for U.S. citizens and who will have access to your biometric data. Those conversations are playing out at the federal policy level as we speak. Every indication I’m seeing is that the policy discussions will not change the fact that face recognition is an extremely secure and convenient way to verify a person’s identity. Every face is different, and with the latest advances it has become very hard to fool the technology. No security or authentication technology is 100-percent perfect, but with great technology and the hard work of diligent humans, our face recognition comes pretty darn close.

It’s an exciting time to be in our industry. I look forward to continuing the healthy dialog and debate as we get closer to mass adoption within the federal government.

 

NEC Corporation of America

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Facial recognition technology has matured rapidly and provides game-changing solutions to today’s identification challenges. To learn more, fill out the form to download the white paper.