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Can we design better services for our society thanks to anonymous face recognition?

Since March 2020, everyday office life and physical collaboration have changed. But Covid-19 also offers opportunities for innovation. We and the service design agency reverse AG have used the time to explore innovative solutions together with our partner FTF International AG.

Together with FTF, we create individual solutions for marketing, retail, gastronomy and hotel business as well as for facility management using face recognition software. And we ask ourselves: What happens if we additionally enrich this knowledge with service design?
FTF stands for "Follow the Face". The company sees itself as "Google Analytics of the offline world". A face recognition software and hardware records customer behavior on the basis of anonymized data or creates authentication for individually recorded personal data, for example when entering office buildings or securing construction sites.

Face recognition and data protection, does that go together?
Face recognition is often associated with scenarios in a surveillance state. FTF is aware of this and has set itself the task of combining technology, some of which is negative, with economic and social benefits. The product is not to be seen as monitoring software but as optimization software. A prerequisite for this is strictly transparent communication and compliance with and application of the guidelines of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced throughout Europe in 2018, as well as constant consultation with the federal government and the cantonal data protection officers.
The perception of the GDPR by users, i.e. by us citizens, was strongly influenced by the Covid-19 crisis: in almost every home, webcam and microphone were released for video call software, regardless of whether Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype. Digitalization was introduced in one go in companies, schools, retirement homes, administrations and governments. What was previously considered unnecessary or dangerous was implemented within a few days. And it seems to be working.

©FTF. Possible setting in a shopping store.

 

Face recognition – what does it do?
The FTF software can recognize a person and record it as a so-called “digital ID” - but not as a person because no data is stored. If the software is used in a supermarket, for example, the user of the FTF software does not want to know who the person is, but rather learn how they behave in the room. Thanks to the data collected, predictive analytics can be created, for example to alert staff to opening another cash register in the next five minutes. The “customer experience” can thus be improved thanks to the shorter waiting time.
If desired by the user, the software can also be used to specifically identify people. On large construction sites, for example, only registered people are allowed access for security reasons. A camera takes control: only those who have been registered in advance are given access via facial recognition. The software can also detect that person # XY1943 is not wearing a safety helmet and can deny access. It would even be possible to measure body temperature to prevent feverish or virus-infected people from entering the room.


Who benefits from this technology?
The primary benefit of this technology is in marketing and human resource management. Innovation in the field of customer experience is generated by measurements, data processing and measures based on them - with the aim of supporting the economic success of the user and increasing it if possible. Shorter waiting times in restaurants or ski facilities can lead to more food and day tickets being sold. Or digital advertising optimized for target groups boosts sales. The customer experience can also be positively influenced by member or VIP recognition in restaurants, bars or hotels. Or during pandemic times: a contactless opening of automatic doors helps fight the spread of viruses.

©FTF. Possible use of software on a construction site.

 

Where does service design come into play?
The technology enables large amounts of data to be collected in the shortest possible time. The interaction of this anonymized data and possible new areas of application makes it interesting to design new measures. These applications do not have to be sales drivers, but can improve the experiences or everyday life of users. And that's exactly what service design does - we ask:

  • How can we build on existing software with positive innovation?
  • How can we use the quality of facial recognition for the benefit of society?
  • And how can we improve existing services and products - or invent new ones?
  • But also: where can we use this data to improve services to the population after Covid-19?

Together with FTF and reverse AG we have played through various future scenarios. What if we can improve home schooling, teaching via video conferencing? Up to now, teachers have been able to perceive little or hardly any of the students' reactions. Has everyone understood? Or did they? So the weaker ones do not receive the attention they need to improve. One possible solution is to capture the students, whereby the software is able to identify which participants are expressing difficulties based on their facial expressions - in order to indicate this to the teacher on the dashboard.

Or can we support the staff in nursing homes to ensure that all residents, visitors and employees comply with the safety rules in exceptional situations like Covid-19?

And how can the cantons or the federal government be helped to ensure safety in public places or in traffic? How do we find solutions for the catering and events industry while complying with new security measures?

And what next?
Such questions or problems can be thought further, and this for almost every industry. The combination of big data with service design will in the future lead above all to the improvement of existing processes, but also to the services offered and above all to the benefit of an improved customer experience.
Do you have similar questions or problems? We believe that the potential for this is far from being exhausted - and we would be happy to discuss it with you!

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Michele Waldeck

Abteilungsleiter Security

 

 

Tel.: 0041 44 247 43 32

Oliver Bucher

Produktmanager Sicherheitsanlagen
Security & Automation

 

 

Tel.: 0041 44 247 42 64