The service industry in the U.S. represents 80% of U.S. private-sector employment, or 89.7 million jobs. For many people with no defined specialty qualifications, service work is often a core part of their income while they train for highly skilled positions or earn money while they explore their career options.
Hidden with this job sector is the evolving deployment of facial-recognition / biometric systems designed to reduce the number of employees required to do service jobs and sell services/products from a centralized source direct to consumers.
Biometric technology is also becoming linked to voice systems that rely on biometric authentication to complete transactions that otherwise would be handled by a salesperson on the phone or in-person.
Take a look at this scenario in terms of time and what may eventually become AI making a purchase decision for you by selecting “the best option” based on your known preferences without the need for cash and with no direct interaction with a person.
As society moves toward being cashless and biometrically authenticated, in some cities homeless people are wearing barcodes around their necks in an attempt to increase donations. The organization Greater Change, gives homeless people a QR code, similar to the kind issued for online tickets. People who want to give money – but who may not have any change in their pocket – can scan the code using their smart phone and make an online payment to that person. The donation goes into an account which is managed by a case worker who ensures that the money is spent on agreed targets, such as saving for a rental deposit or for groceries.
Stop for a moment and think about how this technology will change the job market as we know it. Essentially, the majority of “support employees” could be replaced by an ecommerce tied to minimal staff with the purchasing process all done from your phone. Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec77S25kuVs
Think AI and biometrics are years away – take a closer look.
Facebook’s DeepFace program can now determine whether 2 photographed faces belong to the same person, with an accuracy rate of 97.25%. When taking the same test, humans answer correctly in 97.53% of cases, or just 0.28% better than the Facebook program.
Google’s FaceNet links a face to its owner with almost perfect results.
Look to China for where the world of work is heading as it related to technology and how the business world is changing from people-based to digital-enabled.
In Guangzhou, BingoBox has built a network of 300 fully automated convenience stores. The free-standing glass boxes, about half the size of a 7-Eleven, stock a similar assortment of merchandise, all of it labeled with RFID tags. Shoppers scan a QR code displayed on the front of the store with the WeChat app. Selected items are placed on a counter, and an RFID reader instantly and tallies the total. Shoppers pay via a mobile phone. A scanner near the door verifies that a customer is leaving with only the goods they paid for.
A Car Vending Machine
Instead of having to go from dealership to dealership see the new models, a prospective buyer can schedule a test drive at their convenience by going online to pick up the vehicle at a Ferris-wheel-like vending machine built by Alibaba. The structure holds 30 automobiles in a stack—including models by BMW, Ford and Volvo. The fee for a three-day test drive is only a couple of hundred yuan (less than $50), but the security deposit can go up to the thousands.
The Return of the Automat
In the Zhejiang province famed for its sticky-rice dumplings, has equipped its outlets with an Alibaba-powered technology that allows a diner to order food on their mobile phone or a screen at the entrance of the restaurant and then pick up his meal from lockers connected to the kitchen. When his food is ready, the customer receives a notification on his phone with a locker number. The cubby clicks open as they approach. Drinks are dispensed from smart vending machines that look like refrigerators that are unlocked by scanning a QR code on the door with a phone. After the customer closes the door again, the app automatically charges them for the bottles he takes by reading radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags attached to the drinks.
Types of Biometric Devices
Retina Scanner – These scan the unique biometric pattern in each person’s iris, and match it against a certain number of unique identifying marks that set every person apart from everyone else. Iris scanning and retinal scanning are both used to identify a person according to their unique pattern, but they tend to be far costlier and more complex.
Finger Print Scanner – As far as price goes, the fingerprint scanning is on the lower end of the scale. The cheapest fingerprint scanners are the ones that only scan the actual print, though the costlier ones actually scan the presence of blood in the fingerprint, the size and shape of the thumb, and many other features. These costlier systems actually capture a 3D image of the fingerprint, thereby making it much more difficult for the fingerprint to be counterfeited.
Each person around the world has a distinctly unique face, even two twins that the human eye cannot tell apart. It may be something as small as the slightly different placing of the eyebrows, the width of the eyes, or the breadth of the nose. There are certain markers that enable these biometric recognition scanners to instantly identify the uniqueness of each person scanning their facial features, thus enabling the device to ensure that only the single person with the correct bone structure and feature placement can gain access.
Every person in the world has a unique voice pattern, even though the changes are slight and barely noticeable to the human ear. However, with special voice recognition software, those tiny differences in each person’s voice can be noted, tested, and authenticated to only allow access to the person that has the right tone, pitch, and volume of voice. It’s surprisingly effective at differentiating two people who have almost identical voice patterns.
As the adoption of biometric technology increases, it may decrease service related jobs but also create higher skilled work mainly in the area of software engineering, production, testing, implementation and maintenance of biometric systems.
Today’s workers are faced with a unique challenge: maintaining strong employability in a job market that’s constantly changing and evolving with new industries and technologies.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the average U.S. worker changes jobs every 4.6 years, making it more important than ever to be able to adapt to new career needs as industries change. If you’re a service industry worker now, anticipate the need to upgrade your technical skills to enhance your employability.
Regard of what you do for a living, ensure your financial security by being relevant for work that is in demand and have skills that you have “reality verified” as marketable and in demand in a career field that interests you.