New artificial intelligence software is being used in Japan to monitor the body language of shoppers and look for signs that they are planning to shoplift.
The software, which is made by a Tokyo startup called Vaak, differs from similar products that work by matching faces to criminal records. Instead, VaakEye uses behaviour to predict criminal activity. Company founder Ryo Tanaka said his team fed the algorithm 100,000 hours worth of surveillance data to train it to monitor everything from the facial expressions of shoppers to their movements and clothing. Since VaakEye launched last month, it has been rolled out in 50 stores across Japan.
Vaak claims that shoplifting losses dropped by 77% during a test period in local convenience stores. That could help reduce global retail costs from shoplifting, which hit $34 billion in 2017 according to the Global Shrink Index.
Using AI to catch thieves raises all kinds of ethical questions.
'While the incentive is to prevent theft, is it legal or even moral to prevent someone from entering a store based on this software?' said Euromonitor retail analyst Michelle Grant. This should not be up to the software d...