Look customers in the eyes to lock them in the aisles.

Shopkeepers adopt the hard sell with some tailored software, writes Mark Russell.

IN THE film Minority Report set in 2054, a brewer’s advertising billboard identifies Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, through a retinal scanner. As he walks past, the billboard calls out: ”John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right about now.”

Far-fetched? Not according to retailers who believe this type of targeted advertising may well be the future of shopping.

New York company Immersive Labs is already using built-in cameras and facial recognition software in its outdoor billboards to determine the gender and age of passers-by so it can customise the advertisement on display to suit them and prompt sales.

So if a man strolls by on a cold morning, the display might change from an ad for women’s clothing to an advertisement suggesting a cup of coffee at a nearby cafe.

As Australian online shopping – expected to be worth $21.3 billion this financial year and $30.8 billion by 2015-16 – continues to threaten bricks-and-mortar businesses, retailers are using the latest technology, combined with social media, including more shopping apps, to lure customers back into their stores.

German shoemaker adidas is planning to install touch-sensitive display walls in stores from next year. The virtual footwear wall will allow customers to view the company’s entire range of 4000 pairs of shoes. If a customer likes a particular shoe the store will order it in.

Two cameras above the screen will watch shoppers’ reactions to determine which shoes are most popular. And like other companies, adidas is also gathering feedback by encouraging customers to use Facebook and Twitter to review its products.

Brisbane company Yeahpoint believes its MiMirror creation is the missing link between instore shopping and social media that will revolutionise fashion retail.

MiMirror is a touch-screen display with a camera that acts as a mirror and takes up to six photographs of customers in outfits they are considering buying. The shoppers then email the images to friends or post them on Facebook to get a second opinion.

No retailers have installed the technology yet, but the company is confident major stores will buy the device in coming months.

”The factors driving retailers’ decisions for the future are basically that the cost of business continues to increase and competitiveness in the retail environment is being challenged by the online market,” Yeahpoint’s John Anderson says.

”On the flip side, you have the time-poor consumer who wants to have a much more friendly, fun shopping experience.”

Sean Sands, of Monash University’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies, agrees, saying many consumers are bored with traditional retail and the only way to lure them back into stores is to offer the latest technology linked to social media.

A recent report released by the centre found that online shopping was creating tougher in-store customers because they were ”better informed due to the power of the internet”.

Half the population now research their purchases online before setting foot in a store.

Many are also armed with a wide range of shopping apps that can be downloaded on to iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads and other tablets and smartphones, that allow them to hunt for the best deals.

The RedLaser app, for example, allows instore shoppers to scan the barcode of an item to get the price and then checks online to see if it’s cheaper elsewhere.

Supermarket giant Coles’ ShopMate app, which notes specials and lets you cross off your shopping list as you go, has been downloaded 400,000 times.

Rival Woolworths does not have a shopping app but has one to locate missing trolleys.

Woolies’ app-lessness is not likely to last, however, as retailers respond to consumer demand.

Russell Zimmerman, of the Australian Retailers Association, says ”every retailer has to be in the online space in the foreseeable future” or they won’t survive.

According to PayPal, 8 million Australians buy goods using the internet, and one in 10 buy them with their mobile phones.

Google Australia’s head of retail, Ross McDonald, says this increasing use of mobile phones to search for stores and products has become a noticeable trend in the past six months.

Previously, 95 per cent of online traffic for shopping searches was from computers but 16-18 per cent of online inquiries were now from mobile phones. ”What we advise retailers is that it’s not so much about the app but making sure you are visible on a mobile device when someone searches for you,” he says.

Jo Lynch from Myer – which has an iPhone app that lets you peruse and buy goods with a tap of your finger – says the company expects its online business to generate sales of $5 million for 2010-11 and be worth up to six times that in the next few years.

David Jones’ Brett Riddington says the future of shopping is all about multi-channel retailing. ”Many customers will still want to go in-store to physically see the goods after checking them out online, but we need to make that a more entertaining and engaging experience,” he says.

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Sotac – Soaring Technology introduces Touch Monitor Series.

Soaring Technology have announced new touch monitor series this year.

They provide various solutions of touch such as Resistive , Capacive, SAW and Projective Capacitive touch, Multi touch for different sizes of monitors.

THey are OEM/ODM for several years, and have factory in Taiwan and China.

Please check out their website: http://www.sotac.com.tw for range of products.

Sotac has over 17 years ODM/OEM business in LCD industry.

With experienced R&D team, they claim they are able to design and produce various LCD for different application.

Their main clients such as: IBM (industry monitor), Ford (automotive display), KODAK (photo print KIOSK)….are using their solution for years.

They can be contacted at:

Soaring Technology

www.sotac.com.tw

Tel: 886-2-26918000 ext: 612

Fax: 886-2-26917000

Skype: nancy8il

The (brief) skinny on biometrics

Why go to the trouble of remembering a PIN when you can just swipe your finger, open your eyes wide, or even submit your DNA? Unfortunately, like a set of keys or a mislaid password, biometric security has plenty of loopholes, not to mention serious privacy concerns.

In general, any system that uses unique physical characteristics to check your identity qualifies as a biometric, including fingerprint scanners, facial recognition, hand geometry, voice recognition, and iris readers (remember in “Minority Report,” when everyone’s eyes were scanned practically everywhere they went?), and retinal scanners.

Proving you’re you, no PIN required

That’s not all: other emerging biometric systems could measure your gait, track your mouse and/or keystroke gestures, check your DNA (ouch), zoom in on the veins in your hand, and even sniff your odor—all in an effort to verify that you are, in fact, you.

Biometric security systems are already widely used—for example, plenty of laptops come with built-in fingerprint readers that you swipe while logging in. (And when you think about it, Columbo employed biometrics every time he dusted for prints.) Meanwhile, other uses are still on the drawing board, such as fingerprint readers at checkout counters for verifying credit-card purchases, face recognition at ATMs, iris scanners at airport security checkpoints, and voice recognition for calling your bank. Gone could be the days of being locked out of your account because you forgot your secret code.

Swiping your finger at an ATM or to open your front door may be easier than, say, memorizing a PIN or remembering to bring your keys, but biometrics is by no means foolproof. Faulty scanners could misread your thumbprint, or a raspy throat could keep a voice recognition system from properly IDing you.

Easy target for identity thieves?

Another big concern, of course, is security. Consider, for example, that we leave our fingerprints everywhere—on tables, doorknobs, drink glasses, you name it. A clever identity thief probably wouldn’t have too tough a time snagging your fingerprint—and unlike a PIN, which can be changed in the event of a security breach, you’re stuck with the fingerprints you were issued at birth.

That’s the theoretical bad news about biometrics; the good news is that bleeding-edge biometric sensors are so precise, identify thieves would have a hard time getting a usable sample though casual contact. Let’s take fingerprint readers again: the latest scanners actually detect the pores of your skin as well as your fingerprint, meaning that prints lifted off a coffee table or a glass would have a tough time passing muster.

That said, if we know anything about identity thieves, it’s that they tend to find a way, and that leads to another serious worry about biometrics: privacy. Sure, it’s great that, say, thumbprint readers are so good at scanning every nook and cranny of our fingertips, but where will our scanned thumbprints (or iris readings, or voice scans) be stored? Will the samples be secure? And what are they being used for?

Is Big Brother watching you?

Take, for instance, the FBI’s planned, $1-billion database that’s slated to store a potpourri of biometric data: everything from fingerprints and DNA samples to three-dimensional facial scans and even tattoos. Yes, the new database will make it much easier to track down criminals; however, privacy advocates worry that such a massive biometric storehouse could also be used to track our every move.

Another growing issue is the use of biometrics for border security. U.S. border agents have been scanning the fingerprints of foreign visitors since 2004, and the EU just announced a plan to begin scanning the fingerprints of all non-residents (the plan could be fully implemented by 2015, according to Time). The idea is to keep tabs on foreign visitors and, hopefully, thwart potential terrorist attacks.

But many wonder if compiling a massive database of fingerprints will really do anything to bolster security. “Fingerprints are a very good means to identify people, but the question is who will have access and for what purpose,” said one EU police official quoted in the Time story.

Spooky stuff, indeed, but biometrics has plenty of promise, as well—just imagine making a purchase with the swipe of a thumb, or cruising through security at the airport without having to kick off your shoes. The trick, of course, is ensuring that privacy concerns and basic civil liberties keep the same, rapid pace as biometric technology.

Related:
Biometrics: Who’s Watching You? [Electronic Frontier Foundation]
Biometrics touted as key to stress-free flights [ZDNet]
Biometrics entry [Wikipedia]

UBI’s biometric smart cards launched

KARAIKUDI: Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram has launched Biometric Smart Card of Union Bank of India.

Hawkers and small traders could avail loan from the bank using the card, the minister said.

He also distributed about Rs 4 crore welfare assistance to nearly 400 people coming under BPL.

About 2,500 roadside traders and petty shop owners were provided with the card. The bank had also come forward to repay loans of the members of the small help group.

Fingerprint Logon System Enterprise Edition


 

Fingerprint Logon Enterprise Edition(EE) for MS Windows 2000/2003 Server uses fingerprint recognition technology for total logon management and password control.

All domain users can logon Active Directory with a single touch of their fingers at any client workstation. NO more passwords needed. Extremely beneficial for ordinary computer users and system administrators.

Features:
  • Supports MS Windows 2000/2003 Server Active Directory
  • Supports MS Windows 2000/XP professional at client workstation
  • Logon Domain Controller by touch of a finger.
  • Fingerprint recognition accuracy: FAR-10-6, FRR-10-2
  • All fingerprint data are stored with 256bit AES encryption
  • Fingerprint data transmission by TCP/IP
  • All data transfer is protected by Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm.
  • 4 authentication options:
            Either fingerprint or password
            Fingerprint only
            Password only
            Both fingerprint and password
  • Supports Live Finger Detection(LFD)
  • Benifits for users:
  • No need to memorize password(s) to logon to computer/server/domain.
  • No lost or forgotten passwords
  • No need to change passwords frequently
  • Benifits for System Administrators:
  • No “user lockup” because of entering wrong password
  • No more requests for “reset password” from users
  • Better user identity management: know exactly who is logging on
  • Benefits for Enterprises:
  • Improves overall system and data security because
    of the elimination of password-based authentication system
  • Better overall workforce productivity
  • Reduce computer network management cost
  • Web-Based Biometric Identification System (WBIS)

     WBIS is a state of the art identification system enables enterprises to identify users through biometric technology using a traditional web browser over the Internet/Intranet.

    The identification can be done by using fingerprinting, face recognition or a combination of both. Fingerprint recognition requires a scanner to be installed on the client machine. The face recognition software can work with a webcam, a regular camera or an IP based camera.
    Conventional ID systems reference pictures which are often outdated, and with very different facial characteristics (vision correction, facial hair like beard, mustache, age progression etc.) The software takes into account these factors and compensates for them.
    Features:
  • Besides a webcam and/or a fingerprint reader, no other software or hardware needs to be installed on the client machine.
  • Uses 128-bit encryption between the client and server.
  • Supports unlimited clients.
  • The system is quick, easy-to-use and reliable.
  • Can easily be integrated with existing systems.
  • Advantages:

  • The users do no need to carry their IDs.
  • Being web based, the system offers the following advantages:

  • Reduces IT Management costs.
  • Simplifies deployment to clients.
  • Reduces license costs while effectively increasing license utilizations.
  • Improve security of your organization
  • Simplifies provisioning
  • Robust audit trail
  • Eliminates weak passwords as a vulnerability
  • Fingerprint Access Control System

    Fingerprint Access Control System has a high resolution optical system & latest biometric technology to provide enterprises a secured and convenient access control system. It has a built in time and attendance system

    Features:
  • Live Finger Detection: Special electronic circuit is built into the fingerprint access device so that only live fingerprint will be scanned and the fake fingers made from silicone rubber, play-doh, etc. will be rejected.
  • It can take upto 3 fingerprints per user
  • It also supports MiFare Cards, each device has an in-built MiFare card reader and writer.
  • It supports 5 access control methods, i.e. access control with:
              o   Fingerprint only
              o   Fingerprint + pin
              o   MiFare card+Fingerprint
              o   MiFare card only
              o   MiFare card only + pin
  • Each device has a standard Ethernet interface, hence it can be networked
  • Door control: 1 Door Strike, 1 Door Switch and 12VDC/1.5A
  • Access logs can be viewed using a web browser
  • Access logs can be exported to Excel or text format
  • It can operate in both Standalone and Network mode.
  • Standalone Mode:
  • Each Fingerprint access control device can store up to 3000 fingerprints.
  • Access logs are stored locally hence a PC is not required
  • Each device can store up to 1 million access log records
  • Network Mode:
  • Unlimited number of fingerprints can be stored.
  • Access log is stored on a server(PC) and can support unlimited number of access log records
  • All communication between the device and the server is encrypted by Deffie-Hellmann algorithm.
  • If the network connection is accidentally broken, the device will switch into standalone mode automatically.
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