GS25 brings facial recognition to new shop

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GS25 brings facial recognition to new shop



A consumer uses face recognition to pay at the Smart GS25 in Gangseo District, western Seoul, on Monday. [GS25]

Convenience store chain GS25 has opened up a cashier-less store in Seoul that uses face-recognizing cameras to handle payments.

The company’s first Smart GS25 started operation at LG CNS’ headquarters in Gangseo District, western Seoul, on Monday. LG CNS is a long-time provider of electronic systems to GS25 and one of the companies working to add state-of-the-art technology to the convenience store chain.

The unmanned branch is only accessible to LG CNS staff. The store’s front entrance will allow customers to enter through face recognition after they register with a camera in front of the store. Payments can also be made through the face-scanning technology, and the store automatically charges customer’s bank accounts.

“We aim to introduce and test 13 new smart solutions by the end of this year at the Smart GS25,” the convenience store said in a statement on Monday. “The [long-term] purpose is to apply them to our branches to reduce our franchisees’ labor costs.”

The experimental GS25 has eight new tech features. Although GS25 is late to the game, as its competitors CU, 7-Eleven and Emart24 have already rolled out their own automated technologies, some of GS25’s features are new to Korean convenience stores.

One is the aforementioned face recognition technology for entrance and payments. Another is the image scanner at the cash register. Most convenience stores without a human cashier use barcodes to identify the products. GS25’s new system instead identifies an item by its packaging and weight.

This allows customers to simply place items on the table before paying using facial recognition or a credit card. The company says it takes only about a second for the system to recognize five items at once, whereas with the conventional bar code system it would take 15 seconds to scan them one by one.

An infrared camera and sensors are also installed at the store to regularly check which items need to be restocked.

This system measures the distance to products to see whether there are any left on the shelf and automatically reports this information to the store supervisor.

Other features include a smart CCTV that will track where customers spend the most time. This can help the store owner to decide where to place different items.

“The Smart GS25 is not just an unmanned convenience store packed with tech gadgets,” said Lee Hyun-gyu, a manager of the new shop. “Its main function is to prove technologies that will enhance the convenience of store operation and relieve franchisees of the burden of labor costs. We expect some of the technologies tested here will be shown at our franchises by next year.”

A GS25 spokesman added, however, that a Smart GS25 open to the public would probably not be autonomous.

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