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Walmart deploys AI-powered cameras to track checkout theft

Retail giant Walmart is using artificial intelligence-powered cameras to reduce checkout theft, Business Insider has reported.

When the cameras notice a potential issue with a transaction, the program warns checkout attendants so they can intervene.

The new technology, provided by machine-vision firm Everseen, is being deployed in more than 1,000 US stores and is part of the retailer’s surveillance program called Missed Scan Detection.

Walmart started working on the program several years ago. According to Buzzfeed, in 2015 the company scrapped facial recognition technology because it lacked a good return on investment. 

Despite that, in 2016 Walmart deployed cameras across more than 1,000 stores, and according to Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins, they have seen positive results since then.

Talking to Business Insider, she said that spending on the AI cameras was a “true investment to ensure the safety of our customers and associates.

“Over the last three years, the company has invested over half a billion dollars in an effort to prevent, reduce and deter crime in our stores and parking lots”, she explained.

As reported by the National Retail Federation, the US retail economy lost an estimated $46.8 billion in 2017 due to shrinkage, the allowance made for reduction in the takings of a business due to wastage or theft. That would amount to 1.33 per cent of all sales during that year.

“People make mistakes. In terms of shrinkage, or loss, that’s the main source,” CEO of Everseen told Business Insider, adding that milk is a common item that’s not scanned properly.

“People find it hard to scan milk. Sometimes they get frustrated and they just don’t scan it,” he said.

However successful for businesses, the deployment of AI cameras and facial recognition technologies has also been causing concerns amidst privacy advocates around the world.

The technology is under scrutiny from privacy groups as it trialled in London, UK.

And in the US, The American Civil Liberties Union has also been fighting the implementation of face-scanning technologies in Illinois by invoking the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which bars companies from taking biometric scans without consent.

Image via Wikipedia and PXhere.


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