At the Retail Tech JAPAN 2022 exhibition held in Tokyo, Japan from March 1 to March 4, the demonstration of a cashier-less store called “CO-URIBA” unveiled by Hitachi Ltd. caught the attention of many people.
The “CO-URIBA” service, which was also aired on Japan’s leading broadcasters such as NHK, TV Asahi, and Nippon TV, implements a cashier-less store where users can shop, select products, and pay for them with only their facial recognition and without a wallet or smartphone payment function. Users register their face photos or credit card information in advance, and verify their identity by projecting their face on a special screen installed in the store. After authentication, users’ payment is automatically performed when they leave the store with a product from one of the store’s display stands in their hands. This system completes the purchase procedure so users can select products and leave the store quickly and easily without having to use their wallet or smartphone to make a payment.
The core of this service is the 3D LiDAR (hereinafter referred to as TOF) sensor of Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as HLDS, Co-Presidents MIN BYUNG HUN and TSUJIURA TAKASHI) that can accurately detect 3D information about an object within a distance of about 10 meters in real time. The sensor detects the movement of customers in the store, instantly identifies which products have been sold, and accurately determines whether a customer returns a product once held in their hand or when multiple customers select a product at the same time.
Multiple sensors are used in the configuration of such a cashier-less shop. HLDS has internally developed a “stitching” technology that maps 3D data so that it can operate as one sensor by connecting the 3D data of multiple sensors, thus providing a more accurate tracking technology.
TOF sensors also provide a variety of information that can be used for marketing in smart stores, including checking the number of customers in many stores, tracking movements, and analyzing customers’ dwell time. The information is visualized in various ways through HL-DP™, a cloud-based, enterprise-grade IoT operation platform newly unveiled by HLDS. It is expressed simply as a number, but it can also be viewed through a heat map, real-time imaging, or a time series graph. These data are used as customer analysis data in conjunction with various types of data (gender, age, sales, etc.) along with dwell time and Hand Touch (tracking the customer’s reach) information based on movement information.
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Based on the LwM2M (IoT device management) standard, the HL-DP™ platform provides not only the display of data collected from sensors, but also various user-friendly features, including remote sensor device monitoring and control. Through HL-DP™, users can operate the device with simple controls without visiting the site by using the fine adjustment feature such as adjusting the angle of the sensor, and can also save maintenance costs through fault monitoring, self-diagnosis, and FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air).
Another strength of the HL-DP™ platform is that it provides a platform with interworking API features that enable management by the integration of multiple sensors. In addition to the TOF sensors currently used as a smart store solution, it can be managed by connecting to temperature, dust, and humidity sensors. In particular, when interworking with face recognition-based devices that are scheduled to be released by HLDS, a strong synergy effect is expected as types of customer information can be secured and connected.
HLDS sensor solutions for smart retail stores are already being commercialized through collaboration with major retailers. HLDS solutions are being provided to large convenience stores in Korea and Japan to implement new cashier-less stores, and smart retail solutions are being applied and piloted in various types of retail stores. These sensors are in the spotlight because of their high accuracy and relatively low investment and maintenance costs compared to existing technology for cashier-less stores.
HLDS is a joint venture between Hitachi Ltd. of Japan and LG Electronics of Korea and is a leader in optical drives, such as DVD and Blu-ray players for PCs. HLDS has developed a variety of 2D and 3D sensors utilizing the high-precision optical technology used in these optical drives, and recently, with the commercialization of cashier-less stores, these sensors are once again in the spotlight. Recently, innovative convergence products such as SAFE PASS PLUS, which converges digital signage and face recognition access control devices, are attracting attention.
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