Retailers now want to use consumers’ faces in everyday commerce.
Facial recognition is going mainstream. It sounds good for business, but only if customers agree to smile for the camera.
Beyond Searching for Bad Guys and Unlocking Phones
Indeed, facial recognition is starting to be used for more than security purposes. In this world where everything has to be fast and efficient, retailers want to offer speedy customer service.
Customers could be able to pay for a meal at a fast-food joint by saying cheese to a camera, check bags at the airport with a selfie or get a salesperson’s help quickly if the camera recognizes an annoyed look on their faces.
Facial Recognition and the Privacy Issue
Companies are working on ways of making real-world retail more effective. Personalization is a good example. Stores could make sure that salespeople greet customers by their names, tell them about discounts and suggest products they might like or let them pay at checkout by simply taking their picture.
This entire picture taking raises a huge privacy issue. Isn’t Big Brother already monitoring our every move? Many think so. That could explain why retailers are still nervous about facial recognition to personalize things too much and why consumers, who know little about the technology, don’t trust in it yet.
According to privacy advocates, our face prints could be tied to personal profiles and shared with companies and data brokers. Also, a company using biometrics might sell employee information to a broker or an insurer might buy the data to make assumptions about a person’s health and deny them coverage. The frightening possibilities are endless, not to mention super creepy.
That being said, mainstream facial recognition technology sounds promising in theory and could potentially enhance consumers’ experience if they are aware of what it entails. Companies seem to acknowledge that privacy is important. Let’s hope they all make it a priority, because at the moment, whether companies can acquire biometric data without the people’s consent depends on where they live. So, unless people live in Illinois, Washington or Texas, this is not the least bit reassuring.