Lifting the Lockdown with Edge AI Technologies
Countries are gradually lifting their lockdown policies with the hope that life will go back to what we knew before as normal. However, we are all conscious of the fact that the impact of Covid-19 has redefined our understanding of normalcy forever.
One of the most significant consequences of the pandemic is the acceleration in the adoption of technology to optimize and automate operations. We have seen a steep increase in the demand for edge AI solutions over the past months in preparation for the world after COVID-19. Gorilla Technology has developed a dedicated solution that is not only flexible and scalable, but also market-ready. The solution taps existing products which have been customized to focus on helping businesses achieve the following goals:
- Monitor Social Distancing
- Optimize Service Efficiency
- Automate Operational Processes
- Improve Overall Store Hygiene
The New Normal for Service and Retail Business
It has become increasingly important during lock-down to monitor social distancing. Inside brick and mortar stores such as supermarkets, governments have restricted the number of people allowed within any given area at any one time.
Entrances and Access Control
Currently, staff has been diverted to manage people flow at the entrance of stores – a process that comes wrought with unavoidable human error and inefficiency. To combat this, when more businesses reopen their doors we can deploy and see edge AI video analytics performing automated people counting at the door, with minimal staff engagement required. Screens at entrances will show the exact number of people currently in the store, as well as the max occupancy allowed. The queue outside the store will be separated by marks on the floor. Once inside the store, automatic alcohol dispensers will be placed at various points for customers to use as they like.
For businesses that don’t need to keep their doors open during business hours, an access control device can be deployed at the entrance to measure peoples’ temperatures and grant or deny access accordingly. These devices can be equipped with Gorilla’s facial recognition technology in IVAR™, which includes mask detection and can integrate with temperature sensors. In order to provide flexibility, solutions need to be scalable, cost-efficient, and contactless. The choice will naturally be to deploy edge devices able to run AI analytics and convert this into real-time data. The key tool behind it will be computer vision.
Analytics On the Sales Floor
Inside the store, behavior analytics based on video footage will be used to monitor trends over time. The importance of gaining a bird’s eye view of customer’s behavior in the store is crucial for further action.
Businesses want to understand which areas in the store were frequented more in order to do proper sanitation. This data can also reveal customer preferences, which in turn can lead to more effective inventory management as well as an improvement in in-store product placement. Popular products can be placed in more accessible areas, but also, this can benefit the business owners by allowing them to better manage the shelf-space fee from vendors.
Having precise information about how much time people are spending in certain areas (dwell time) could prove valuable in assisting health organizations perform contact tracing. The contact history of the infected person can then be accurately traced, to inform people that have unknowingly been in contact with them. In addition to this, with the same dwell time information, retailers can correlate the data to uncover the exact product that people are spending more time looking at and tweak their supply chain accordingly.
Previous to the pandemic, most of the sourcing in retail chains was done through personal relationships between vendors and buyers. Decision making was largely made by buyers who relied on their own experience, a system that is time consuming and not quickly replicated. The pressing need to automate and make decisions based on precise data will become indispensable for businesses reopening in the post-pandemic era.
POS and Check-Out
The need for social distancing will not subside for a long time. Some businesses estimate that such measures will need to be kept in place for the next two to three years. In view of this, the areas where people are likely to concentrate within brick and mortar stores are crucial. The check-out area is one of these high risk areas where edge AI video analytics can help manage the amount of people queuing up in order to reduce wait times.
Crowd detection analytics in computer vision solutions like IVAR can help detect the number of people in a determined zone and send a notification to appropriate staff when the amount of people exceeds a pre-established limit. Once staff is notified, they can reduce check-out time by opening more counters to serve more people.
Reopening Through Digital Transformation
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is to pause and reflect on our business practices. This forced halt in our daily activities has no doubt impacted us negatively, but has also allowed the world to reset itself and find new best practices.
It has made us humble about our own limitations and brought us together to collaborate as a community. It has put into question the way we consume, and striped our purchases to the bare necessities. It has also pushed organizations that were hesitant about digitalization to quickly pivot and adapt. In the wake of the pandemic, the service and retail industries will go back to business transformed – empowered by AI-driven technology and enhanced by data-driven decision making.
Contact us for more on digital transformations.