Facial recognition technology has been increasingly adopted at airports, traffic intersections, stadiums, and even some schools. Now, experts say retail is the next industry to become a target of the technology, pointing to an increasing number of suppliers and companies willing to put it in their stores.
According to a report, U.S. retailers are supposed to begin using facial recognition to stop shoplifters or spot culprits, but many are eyeing it for much broader uses like customer tracking or loyalty programs. The move has already pulled scrutiny from privacy advocates who fear customers may be unaware that retailers are keeping track of their faces. The makers of this technology view it differently, however, considering that it would lead to a better consumer experience. While some have argued establishing loyalty programs for consumers who opt-in to be a part of a retailer’s facial recognition system. People who opt-in might receive discounts on items they often buy or any other number of loyalty rewards. Consequently, consumers might be more willing to trust the technology and companies would earn valuable data for facial recognition systems.
Some privacy advocates said that retailers could use the data gleaned from Facial Recognition systems for targeted marketing or tracking consumer whereabouts outside the store. New York Magazine highlighted that there are not any known cases of retailers doing this just yet, but Home Depot has tested using security footage to observe what consumers are browsing. As an escalating number of retailers move toward cashier-less store models like Amazon’s Go stores, the plausibility has grown that they’ll rely on facial recognition for security and, possibly, other consumer experience-oriented uses.
As stores look into adopting the technology, it’s likely to face some regulatory barriers. New York Magazines emphasized that a New York Councilman, last month put forth a bill that would compel businesses to inform the public if they’re utilizing facial recognition technology, how long they store the data and who they’re sharing it with.