- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2014

Retailers have a new sales tool at their hand and they’re hoping it helps identify the big buyers: Facial recognition technology that tells when super spenders enter their stores.

Some stores already use the technology to alert when known shoplifters enter, via email or text alerts sent by specialized companies, like FaceFirst, The Daily Mail reported. Some stores already use it, too, to identify celebrities who come to shop. But now, companies want to take that technology a step further and tell when those with the biggest wallets and deepest pockets come in to shop.

The idea: Sales people can then adjust accordingly.

The technological shopping aid is simple: “Just load existing photos of your known shoplifters, members of organized retail crime syndicates, persons of interest and your best customers into FaceFirst. Instantly, when a person in your FaceFirst database steps into one of your stores, you are sent an email, text or SMS alert that includes their picture and all biographical information of the known individual so you can take immediate and appropriate action,” FaceFirst reports on its website, The Daily Mail said.


And CEO Joseph Rosenkrantz said to The New York Times that he envisions a mass market appeal for his technology, that will ultimately lead stores to first recognize consumers and second, for stores to then send targeted, personalized ads to those customers’ cell phones.

Privacy advocates, meanwhile, are alarmed.

“Commercial facial recognition technology has the potential to provide important benefits and to support a new wave of technological innovation,” said John Verdi, the director of privacy initiatives for the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, in The Daily Mail. “But it also poses consumer privacy challenges.”