New technologies aim to make purchasing experiences easier for both consumers and operators, but some have sparked concerns over privacy. However, emerging systems could help make visits frictionless for consumers and allow operators to get to know their customers better with less human interaction. Here's a look at three that we’re watching.
The next 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 the smart ring. The technology to make this future possible comes from the husband-and-wife team that developed a bitcoin wallet designed to protect the cryptocurrency both physically and online.
The ring’s payment function works similar to Apple Pay or Android Pay; users simply tap a credit card scanner at the checkout with it. It uses a fingerprint scanner so it will only work when worn by the true owner, and senses when the user takes the ring off so it can lock the credentials within.
One touchscreen kiosk being marketed to quick-service restaurant chains uses biometrics to scan customer faces to ID the guest and bring up their order histories the minute they walk up to the kiosk.
The face-recognition technology is only activated with customer approval, but the system still tracks consumer preferences and loyalty points. It does not store payment information, though it does accept credit cards, Apple Pay and Android Pay.
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, Estonia, that employed software to monitor the facial expressions of shoppers. The technology found that shoppers who entered the store with smiles on their faces spent 33% more cash than those who were not smiling.
The article from The Telegraph also noted an anonymous French bookseller who claimed his sales rose by 10% after introducing similar monitoring technology.