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Ecommerce
2020-08-24

Pay with your face: e-commerce and other uses of facial recognition

Laura Villa Méndez
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Facial recognition technology has experienced advances due to research done in recent years. One of the attributes that makes it most attractive for its implementation in various sectors of society, like in e-commerce, is its precision. 

Several processes can be performed through facial recognition. First of all, you will find verification, which refers to when we have the data of someone whose identity wants to be verified, a process that ensures that that person's face matches an image.

There is also identification, which is done when you need to compare an image with a set of known identities to find the closest one. Also, there is the search for a person in the crowd, for this process, it is necessary that all faces are in a detection system and can be assigned an identity to each face using a facial recognition algorithm.

 These processes can be implemented for different uses such as the ones listed below:

1. Making payments

 Using facial recognition to make payments means stopping using credit cards that can be stolen or intercepted more easily. In this way, the customer will not have to worry about taking it everywhere, nor being the victim of a scam, since only by showing his face will be able to access the products and services he wants.

The uses of facial recognition technology will be especially relevant in the retail industry. Through these systems, it is possible to make purchases in supermarkets where there is no one at the cashier, only a facial recognition software that scans the face of the customer, identifies it, calculates the invoices based on the data that the customer is registering in a mobile application and finally receives the payment.

Amazon opened its first Amazon Go store in the United States in 2018, allowing customers to enter, get the products they need, and leave. With a mix of technologies, including facial recognition, it is possible to identify incoming users and charge them for the items that come out, without the need to make long lines. Amazon presents a future where you don't need to make lines, just take what you need and leave.

2. Security and surveillance

Facial recognition software can determine whether or not someone should access a certain location. In places such as airports, it is used to speed up procedures and ensure greater security. The United States is one of the countries that has begun using facial scanning in the boarding process to confirm the identities of those leaving or entering the country.

According to a report by the Research Group Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, at least 75 countries are actively using artificial intelligence tools such as facial recognition for surveillance. This technology is also used to perform intelligent surveillance and strengthen security in cities. Governments use it to instantly identify criminals in commercial establishments and sectors of the city. 

 3. Customer service

Through facial recognition, it is possible to analyze facial expressions to determine the emotions or feelings that a customer experiences when they are testing a product or service. This could mean an advantage in the marketing area of companies, promoting the improvement of the user experience. This technology would allow companies to obtain data with greater veracity and in real-time, having a better understanding and analysis of the purchasing habits of their customers.

 In China, there are coffee shops that use this technology as greeting tools. When a customer enters the premises, staff are alerted for their presence and greet them by name. As this is a very safe method, since it is difficult to fake a person's facial features, customer service certainly becomes a personalized experience.

 4. Entertainment

Biometric technology is also used in the video game industry to improve user experience and increase immersion and interactivity. An example of this is the developer company  Faceware, which aims to continue to give these products higher levels of realism and customization. In partnership with Cloud Imperium Games, facial recognition functionality was introduced to the Star Citizen Game, to project all kinds of human reactions into the game, and moving them to the faces of avatars, to allow users and communication between players to be as close to reality as possible.

 In the market, we find many mobile devices that currently incorporate facial recognition as a form of secure access. An example of this is the technology that was born with the iPhone X in 2017 with Face ID. Biometrics are also used in social networks to capture the facial features of the user and modify them through filters or effects, which contribute to people's entertainment when they are active and interacting on the Internet.

 5. Tourism

Faced by the contingency of the global pandemic, the implementation of these technologies seems to be a necessity, both for security measures, as well as for health and to be able to give confidence to tourists. In Singapore, facial recognition is being implemented in hotels, where tourists can register only by showing their face, reducing waiting times, and speeding up services.

As an example of these tools, you will find the "Smart Hospitality Service" launched by NEC Corporation, which already operates in hotels in Japan and seeks to expand to other regions of the world. These biometric solutions would facilitate the check-in process, controlled entry to hotel rooms and facilities, as well as paying without cash. The reservation can be made with facial information so that upon arrival at the hotel, the entrance is made easy through devices equipped for recognition.

On the other hand, Universal Studios Park in China, which is expected to be opened in 2021, will implement facial recognition upon entry, since the cameras will scan faces to determine if people have paid for the ticket.

 6. Prevention in health topics

Facial recognition can be used to detect symptoms and diagnose diseases that cause detectable changes in appearance. An example of the above is the facial recognition they use at the National Human Research Genome Institute to detect DiGeorge syndrome, a strange genetic disease caused by the suppression of a small segment of chromosome 22. This biometric technology allowed research, diagnosing the disease in 96% of cases. As this technology becomes sophisticated, facial recognition will become an allied diagnostic tool for various diseases.

 What's in store for facial recognition?

Facial recognition is consolidating as one of the technological trends that could cover more sectors in the coming years. Companies are starting to bet on including this technology in their business models to improve the user experience. It should be noted that it is difficult to estimate when this technology can become common, so it will be necessary to create large databases for facial recognition software to work on a large scale, so for the time being, to access a face, there must be a voluntary inclusion of the person in the records of some application. 

There are multiple benefits when using facial recognition systems, such as performing and speeding up actions from our day today. It is useful in issues of job security, mobile access, applications, in-store payments, and even scientific research. Although there are several concerns about privacy violations, accessing this technology is now in the palms of our hands. It will allow processes to be facilitated, thinking about a future in which the security of users is always prioritized, protecting their data and personal information.

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