A common technology trend that is expected to come into fruition over the next few years is facial recognition.
The director of Intel’s Retail Marketing and Communications unit, Christopher O’Malley, has argued that facial recognition technology will become extremely population as a tool to provide shoppers with more targeted information in-stores.
It involves the scanning of consumers’ faces to determine the approximate age and gender in which then certain products can be displayed on the kiosk interface dependent on that shopper’s specific profile. A number of brands have already jumped on the band wagon such as Kraft and Adidas and they have already deployed the software in-stores to improve customer experience. It has already been adopted in countries like Japan and is installed in industry sectors like retail (shops), hospitality (restaurants) and entertainment (theme parks). The technology can be used on kiosks, walls and digital signage and works for example, by advertising a female consumer in her fifties a range of goods that are suitable for her age and lifestyle. Adidas’s Vice Present of Global Retail Marketing, Chris Aubrey, says that “if a retailer can offer the right products quickly, people are more likely to buy something.” Accurate demographic and lifestyle information is therefore vital for this technology to work e.g. a female aged between 25-29 years old is more likely to have children at home and so kids products can be suggested. Or a male in his sixties is prone to having more disposable income to buy luxury items like cars or gadgets. The software has even been developed on social networking site Facebook, in which the tool automatically recognises people in photos put online to tag them in the picture.
Pic Credit: Inventor Spot
Touch screen kiosks can feature a dispensing option for customers, regardless of the industry of deployment.
A kiosk can dispense tickets for the football sector, receipts for leisure and tourism, coupons in retail, wine in hospitality industry and even prescription drugs to customers who need the service 24 hours a day, without the assistance of a staff member. This enhances customer power and allows them to carry out tasks independently, so staff time can be used more efficiently improving customer experience rather than doing menial paper work tasks. And now it seems that as well as dispensing these basic products, kiosks can also dish out baguettes. A baker in France has deployed a round-the-clock automated baguette dispenser that promises to warm bread any time of the day or night. The kiosks, which cost $71,000 each, finish baking partially pre-baked baguettes and customers don’t need to spend a lot of ‘dough’ because they dispense the hot loaves for just one Euro. The baker, Jean-Louis Hect, calls the bread-baking and dispensing touch screen technology “the bakery of tomorrow.” So far, one kiosk has been installed in Paris which sold 1,600 baguettes in the very first month and nearly 4,500 in July 2011; and another unit has been deployed in another town in France. So if you want to reap the advantages of touch screen technology as is the bread-baking food sector; install a kiosk in your business today with the help of Protouch. And do not fret- they will be the yeast of your worries…
The issue of blind people accessing kiosks in airports is very much a heated and unresolved one.
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has tried to sue multiple airports including the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, alleging that the ticket kiosks are not accessible to the visually impaired. They claimed that the airports violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing equal services to blind passengers. But the McCarran operators have now said that if anything their blind passengers get preferential treatment. The operators say the NFB and several blind passengers are “trying play on court sympathy by claiming ticketing kiosks deny them convenience and privacy when they are actually given preferential treatment.” A deployed kiosk in an airport enables passengers to; check-in, check flight information, print tickets and boarding passes, select seats and upgrade tickets and pay for transaction.
According to the complaint, the kiosks include a visual touch screen that lacks any auxiliary aids such as voice guidance programs. The plaintiffs say they have to wait extended periods of time for assistance from airline employees and must give strangers sensitive private information. Now the airport’s counter argument is that the kiosks provide sighted air travellers numerous, unique benefits, including convenience, privacy and independence. They maintain that the “plaintiffs do not dispute that they are provided with curb-to-gate assistance, including … preferential assistance from airline employees in the course of the check-in and ticketing process.” Install a Touch screen kiosk in your business today to ensure everyone has equal access, with Protouch.
Kiosks in Worcestershire, West Midlands have attracted criticism as they allegedly ‘discriminate’ against disabled users.
Wyre Forest District Council (WFDC) has installed some payment kiosks at the Worcestershire Hub and Kidderminster Town Hall in an effort to save the authority £25,000 a year through cutting staff costs. However, the technology has caused outrage in the community in that a disabled man reportedly feels discriminated against as he cannot use the new machines from his wheelchair. The kiosks, which cost the council £13,000, were deployed so residents could pay for council tax, housing bills and paying blue badge and other charges without face-to-face contact with a staff personnel. But according to Mark Lawley, of Disability Action Wyre Forest (DAWF), the machines are not user-friendly and are out of reach for wheelchair users as the messages on the screens are not visible from that height, and there is no privacy as people can see over his head. Lawley said that the self-service touch screen kiosk fail because they cannot be used any wheelchair users. He added: “I feel discriminated against. It’s not a very positive attitude towards disabled people. They really haven’t thought this through…The council is at risk of legal action if the service cannot be used.” The Equality Act 2010 is the law which bans unfair treatment and helps achieve equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society.
The act covers nine protected characteristics which are; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. The Act does explain how reasonable adjustments should be made for disabled persons to avoid the disadvantage. District council leader, Conservative councillor John Campion, said: “Changes have been made with the customer in mind. We recognise that one size doesn’t fit all and it’s very unfair to say we are discriminating against a certain user group.” A spokeswoman for WFDC said: “We are aware that there are issues for people with disabilities and we are working to address them by providing alternative ways for people to pay and having customer service advisers on hand to help people who may have specific difficulties.” Protouch offers guidance on the placement of touch screen technology in order to enable all users use the kiosk. By featuring internet access on the machines, help instructions can also be offered to those few people who find it difficult to use, and not just the disabled.
Pic Credit: The Kidderminster Shuttle