How to stop shoplifters with facial recognition and a clever playlist


ITEM: Japanese security systems company 3rd-eyes has launched a new anti-shoplifting system that uses facial recognition to detect repeat offenders – and alerts shop staff by changing the store’s ambient music.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the system is being targeted mainly at Japanese bookshops, where shoplifting costs store owners anywhere from $90 million to $180 million a year – which is painful for a business where even the bigger shop chains are operating at single-digit margins.

3rd-eyes’ anti-shoplifting system takes video from security cameras, analyzes customers’ facial features and details like estimated age and gender, and flags anyone potentially engaging in shoplifting activity. All that data is stored in the cloud. If a suspicious person returns to the store, the system IDs them and tips off the staff so that they can keep an eye on that person.

The system demonstrated an accuracy rate of 93% during a a three-month trial in a Tokyo bookstore, Nikkei reports.

This approach doesn’t necessarily prevent the first offense, but that’s not necessarily the objective, because shoplifters are generally repeat offenders. The most effective way to successfully stop a shoftlifter before they leave the store is typically to catch them in the act – but it’s difficult. Security cameras are better at identifying criminals than stopping them from committing crimes. Hiring in-store observers is costly – and even then, they can’t possibly keep an eye on every customer in the store.

The 3rd-eyes system lets staff know which customers to watch by sending an alert to their smartphone with details of the suspect.

Also – and I like this part – it will change the background music playing in the store.

The article doesn’t say exactly how that works, but I’m thinking it would have to be a specific song that otherwise wouldn’t be played. Something in keeping with the theme and purpose of the system. You’d also probably want to have a full playlist of songs like that in case shoplifters catch on that if they hear a specific song, they’ve been rumbled.

Maybe something like this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or, perhaps you could send a subliminal warning to the shoplifter.

Or make them paranoid.

And so on.

What fun!

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