How facial recognition is transforming multiple industries
In a scene from the 2002 film Minority report, the character of Tom Cruise walks into a mall for advertising displays that not only identify him and list his previous purchases, but also attempt to strike up a conversation with him and provide recommendations. In a world dominated by print and television, where digital connectivity was a nice feature rather than a necessity, the film was categorized as science fiction.
Fast forward two decades and real life science has caught up with real life fiction. The rapid development of advanced technologies has made AI-based facial recognition a fast-growing industry estimated at $3.8 billion in 2020. The pandemic has further accelerated this growth trajectory, with lockdowns and protocols of social distancing implemented over the past two years, making technology an integral part of new era business operations.
Let’s take a look at some of the industries that have been transformed by facial recognition technology (FRT) and are expected to see widespread adoption in the coming years:
Security, Surveillance, Policing
When thinking of the possible use cases for facial recognition, the mind immediately jumps to security-based applications, and sectors such as counterintelligence, law enforcement and surveillance, naturally, are major adopters of the technology. FRT helps agencies identify, monitor and apprehend wanted criminals, their associates and other suspicious individuals on a much larger scale than ever before. It is also used to collect evidence and enable faster emergency responses to situations such as riots, violence, theft and vandalism.
Many developed countries such as Germany, UK and USA already have FRT at federal and state levels, while its adoption in India is being driven by the state governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, from Punjab and Uttarakhand. The Indian government is also rolling out a nationwide FRT surveillance program, with the stated aim of fighting crime and locating missing persons.
Online and offline retail
Customer retention is one of the most important metrics for retail businesses, and market research over decades has consistently linked high customer retention to the quality of service provided. before, during and after the sale. According to a Shep Hyken survey, 96% of customers stop buying from brands because of poor customer service. However, as touchpoints and sales channels expand with increasing digital integration, it becomes difficult to consistently deliver high-level customer service.
This challenge has come to the fore during the pandemic. Locked at home for nearly two years, consumers want more human interactions, whether online or offline. Brands are already filling this gap with video calling solutions. Another survey pointed out that 53% of consumers feel more motivated to interact with brands when they see a human face during a video call.
The next logical step is to integrate facial recognition into retail operations to improve the customer experience. Brands around the world are already doing this. Tesco is using facial recognition technology to present targeted ads to customers, CaliBurger is streamlining the in-store customer experience with FRT, while Walmart is measuring customer service satisfaction levels at checkout. Others, like Macy’s and Apple, also use facial recognition to detect unauthorized intrusions, thefts, and property damage.
FRT-powered sentiment analysis is also expected to play a role in customer service and experience management, helping human agents resolve queries by recommending the most ideal response to developing situations in real time. As the economy gradually opens up, the adoption and applications of facial recognition in retail – especially in a country like India – can only increase.
One of the most significant use cases for facial recognition technology, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, is in the travel domain. Even before the pandemic hit, British Airways used FRT to streamline the passenger experience on flights departing from the United States. Given the extreme transmissibility of variants such as Delta and Omicron, such deployments will become the norm to provide non-contact, non-contact passenger screening and boarding, as well as contact tracing in the event of suspected infection. Plans are underway to enable FRT-based boarding at four airports in India from March 2022, with further deployments also underway.
Prior to 2020, the KYC standards required to access any type of financial service in India were fulfilled by Aadhar-based KYC processes. However, the Supreme Court later declared it unconstitutional. Then the pandemic hit and made Aadhaar-based physical verification impossible. To address this challenge, private BFSI companies have turned to video KYC to ensure compliance with industry regulations. The adoption of the technology received a further boost in March 2020 when the Reserve Bank of India authorized video KYC as an alternative customer verification channel for private sector banks and financial service providers.
Today, major BFSI players use facial recognition technology to perform video KYC, verify existing and potential customers for remote transactions, and minimize fraud incident rates. Additionally, many leading banks, NBFCs and fintech companies are exploring the application of facial recognition-based sentiment analysis to improve customer experience management, whether for on-site or digital customer interactions. , for better lead conversion and better customer service. If technology adoption continues at this rate, it won’t be long before physical debit cards and devices for cash and point-of-sale transactions become redundant, with FRT-based biometric verification serving as a preferred tool for carrying out financial transactions.
Real estate sector
Today’s ever-changing customer preferences mean that real estate companies are no longer just involved in construction – they often become property managers and service providers after the project is completed. Residential real estate has seen a major shift in this direction, with major property developers staying on to run the companies after handing over the keys to their clients.
This means that once the initial shock of the pandemic has dissipated and normalcy has resumed, ensuring access to services such as security, maintenance, domestic help, order fulfillment and visits to residential societies has become essential. Seeking to fill this needs gap without compromising the safety of their residents or staff, property companies have deployed facial recognition technology for contactless entry management, staff attendance, contact tracing, and more. Such deployments should become more popular, with more use-cases coming to mind.
As industries move forward in the post-pandemic world, AI-based technologies such as facial recognition will be integral to more efficient and progressive operating models. FRT-based systems are already replacing manual, fingerprint and RFID-based systems for attendance and canteen management, while use cases such as access management are also gaining popularity in industries such as law firms, manufacturing and IT/ITeS. We will continue to witness FRT-driven transformation, disruption and evolution on an unprecedented scale, across all sectors – for the future we envisioned is here, pounding on our screens.
(Varun Gupta is Director of KENT RO Systems and leads the division of the company that works on technology-driven innovations for the new age world. Views are personal)
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Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2022, 2:15 PM IST