Chinese tech giant Tencent has partnered with Intel to create artificial intelligence-enhanced cameras that provide insights into retail environments.
The collaboration will initially see Tencent YouTu Lab and Intel offer two products: DeepGaze, an AI camera, and YouBox, a means of retrofitting exiting camera systems with AI capabilities.
The DeepGaze AI camera analyses how shoppers move around the store and the number of shoppers at different times of day. Pre-processing and object detection is handled on the cameras themselves, at the edge, before relevant data is transferred to Tencent’s cloud for further analytics.
Meanwhile, Youbox provides retailers with older camera systems the ability to connect up to 16 older in-store cameras.
Simon Wu, general manager of Tencent YouTu Lab, explained how the joint effort works in practice:
“Based on Intel Movidius Myriad VPUs, the YouTu camera and box perform inference at the edge in tandem with Intel Xeon Scalable processors in the cloud to provide cost-effective and flexible solutions for verticals including retail and construction.”
Commenting on the partnership, Remi El-Ouazzane, Intel vice president and chief operating officer of the AI Products Group, said:
With artificial intelligence, enterprises can gain new insights about their customers to both elevate the users’ experience and drive business transformation.
“Tencent’s new AI camera solutions take advantage of powerful Intel Movidius Myriad technology to enable deep neural networks to run directly on the cameras, providing real-time and actionable data for various businesses, including retail and smart buildings.”
The thinking is that customer analytics, enabled by AI, can help retailers predict sales performance based on trends and real-time tracking of shoppers’ activity and product turnover.
They can also automatically alert store employees to restock shelves without the need for time-consuming, manual inventory management. This helps the retailer personalise and improve on the customer experience, immediately alerting them if the product is in stock, where it is located or if they need to have it shipped.
Internet of Business says
Amazon Go stores have already shown the potential of AI-enhanced cameras in retail settings. Allowing the online retailer to bring its data-driven strategies to physical stores and make them checkout-free.
Partnering with a Chinese company is likely a wise move by Intel. Our own analysis points to the country leading the way when it comes to cashier-free stores and other technology innovations in retail.
According to Mindtree, personalised AI-driven customer ‘extra-periences’ are the future of the industry.
Existing high street household names, such as M&S, are turning to digital-first strategies and up-skilling to stave the erosion of convenience- and data-led online retailers.
In the US, Walmart is undergoing wide-reaching reinvention and is planning to deploy Microsoft’s cloud technologies, including AI and machine learning, across a range of functions, including purchasing algorithms, and sales data sharing and management.
Through partnerships, strategy shifts, and retraining, physical retailers are being forced to adapt to the data-driven world in which we now live – one where most consumers value convenience above all else.