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ITNews: National Pharmacies uses in-store facial recognition

October 15, 2017

Authenticates members to self-serve via kiosks.

ITNews article by Sholto Macpherson following interviews at Oracle OpenWorld, San Francisco October, 2017.

National Pharmacies, which has branded chemists in three states, has introduced facial recognition technology to allow customers to perform a range of transactions using in-store kiosks.

The kiosks can be found in the approximately 100 branded pharmacies in South Australia, Victoria and NSW. They are physically Samsung tablets running Oracle's mobile cloud service (MCS).

When one of National Pharmacies' 350,000 registered customers approaches a kiosk, they can now authenticate using facial recognition.

The tablet's camera takes a photo, which is then passed to Amazon Rekognition, a deep-learning tool used for image analysis.

Rekognition converts the photo to attributes that National Pharmacies then matches with data about the customer held in an instance of Oracle identity management.

General manager Ryan Klose told Oracle Openworld 2017 that National Pharmacies' trials of Rekognition had convinced it of the need to use it in conjunction with Oracle technology, instead of as a standalone way to authenticate members.

“We had to deal with people using pictures of themselves on their phone to register their face. If you want to log on as me and you didn’t use any other technology (to verify the photo) then it would just work with a photo,” Klose said.

Klose said National Pharmacies had come up with "a number of techniques" to properly authenticate a member on its kiosks, though he declined to offer further details.

"If you’re innovating in security, the less predictable you are, the better," he said.

Through the in-store kiosks, customers are able to access seven different software platforms.

They can update their membership details, look up previous transactions and book an appointment with the pharmacist for bone density, diabetes or other type of health checkup.

Members can also use the kiosks to print off promotional vouchers sent to their mobile app, or to interact with other elements of the pharmacy's loyalty programs.

“Early on, we launched a mobile app but we found some members chose not to use mobile phones as their retail (interface)," Klose said.

"It wasn’t fair that they weren’t made these offers other than through the mobile" so the organisation expanded the ways it rewarded loyalty.

Customers that do use National Pharmacies' app are offered inducements when they are within range of a store.

The mobile app uses location services on Android and iOS and Oracle MCS to analyse the data and send vouchers to individual members if they are within a defined radius of a store.

Read the full article here.