CHICAGO -- From face recognition to making purchases with the wave of a finger, emerging retail technology is making headlines.
New technologies aim to make shopping experiences easier for both consumers and operators, but some have sparked concerns over privacy, especially in an era in which data breaches and cyberattacks are increasing in regularity.
Set issues of privacy aside, though, and these technologies could help make shopping frictionless for consumers and allow operators to get to know their customers better with less human interaction.
Here's a look at three emerging retail technologies that the team at CSP is keeping an eye on …
1. The token wearable
Imagine if you could replace your credit card, work ID, transit pass, home key, car key and computer passwords with one wearable device that fits around your finger. Enter Token, the smart ring that can replace most of your wallet.
The technology to make this future possible comes from the husband-and-wife team that developed Case, a bitcoin wallet designed to protect the cryptocurrency from bad actors both physically and online.
The ring pairs with MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards. Using the payment function works similar to Apple Pay or Android Pay. Once a card has been added to the ring, users simply tap a credit-card scanner at the checkout with it and the payment is made. It uses a fingerprint scanner so it will only work when worn by the true owner. Token has an optical sensor that senses when users take the ring off so it can lock the credentials within.
The price of the ring rivals the cost of an Apple Watch, and it's a little large for a ring, but it packs plenty of function in one small package.
2. Bite into kiosks
Not all consumers are excited about self-service kiosks, but one brand wants to use the tech to take food-ordering personalization to the next level.
Bite, a touchscreen kiosk being marketed to quick-service restaurant chains, uses biometrics to scan customer faces. This way, Bite can immediately identify customers and their order histories the minute they walk up to the kiosk.
The face-recognition technology is only activated with customer approval, but Bite still tracks consumer preferences and loyalty points even if the user doesn’t want the restaurant to have a record of what he or she looks like. The face-scanning touchscreen does not store any payment information, though it does accept credit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay.
3. Spy vs. shoplifter
Retailers in Europe and the United States are starting to "spy" on customers, according to a report in The Telegraph, a United Kingdom-based publication.
The Telegraph reported on a shop for mothers in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, that employed software from London-based Realeyes to monitor the facial expressions of shoppers. Realeyes’ technology showed that shoppers who entered the store with smiles on their faces spent 33% more cash than those who were not smiling.
The technology can simultaneously help prevent shoplifting and give retailers a closer look at what shoppers are thinking and feeling.
The article from The Telegraph also noted an anonymous French bookseller who claimed his sales rose by 10% after introducing similar monitoring technology.