Shopping under the eye of an artificial intelligence

Reports returned sine die, requests for interviews remained unanswered… Intermarché, Monoprix and Franprix do not wish to highlight the tests carried out in their stores. “It’s the initiative of a few franchisees”, we understate in one. It’s not “not a subject on which we wish to communicate”, answer others. Because it shouldn’t “that the National Commission for Computing and Liberties [CNIL] is alarmed”. Since the CNIL looked into the subject of so-called “intelligent” cameras in January, deployed in supermarkets, there has been a total blackout.

These systems make it possible, thanks to artificial intelligence software, to make the images captured by current video surveillance installations in stores speak. “The internal security code, which dates from 1995, legally governs all video surveillance or video protection systems. But this legislation is no longer adapted to technical developments”recognizes Thomas Dautieu, director of compliance at the CNIL.

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With this so-called “intelligent” video surveillance, stores seek to detect theft more effectively. “We know the shelves where it flies, it’s alcohol and perfumery”declares the director of a hypermarket, who is in despair in the face of the resurgence of “people who come in threes in diving gear under their clothes to be able to better block the bottles”or crooks “who go to the automatic checkouts by sticking the barcodes of articles of the same weight on their products”.

Faced with so much ingenuity, this store manager has been experimenting with new technological solutions for several months. “A start-up plugged an artificial intelligence into our video system. The algorithm analyzes the movements of people on the shelves, and, if a gesture is suspicious, the video is sent to the security guard, who studies it to see if the customer has simply scratched his body or if he has hidden an article. This allows it to be intercepted on its way out if the theft is proven. I am not outlawed, because there is a void. » Mr. Dautieu acknowledges that “the regulations are old and complex”: “We are in a kind of vagueness. It is difficult to know what is authorized or not. »

“A rapidly growing global market”

Legal void also for autonomous stores, currently being tested, which promise their customers to do their shopping in a few seconds, without having to wait at the checkout. Customers are followed in their movements, and their receipt filled in real time using a concentrate of cameras and technologies. “We are thinking about the framework in which this fits, because there are no specific regulations”says Mr. Dautieu.

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Shopping under the eye of an artificial intelligence

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