3D Imaging Delivers Touchless Experiences

3 min read

There's no question that life is being permanently altered by COVID-19. At many businesses, one of the most visible changes is the way customers will interact with touchscreens

Consumer insistence on contactless technology is on the rise. At supermarkets, big box retailers, airports, hospitals and restaurants of every shape, size and category, people are demanding a contact-free experience.

A May 2020 CapGemini Research Institute study on contactless customer experience found that 84% of U.S. consumers expect to increase their use of touchless technologies during the COVID-19 crisis to avoid interactions that require physical contact. Fifty-five percent of those consumers expect to use touchless technologies even after the crisis ends.

With concern about viral transmission at an all-time high, patrons would prefer to not touch any common surface. But how can touchscreen kiosks and digital signage be expected to go touchless?

3D imaging technology, to a large degree, will solve the touchless challenge. From facial recognition to contactless ordering and payments, small and inexpensive 3D cameras will allow kiosks to thrive, both today and in the post-COVID-19 world.

Worldwide acceptance

Facial recognition is a common customer verification method around the planet – and it's becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. In the same CapGemini study, 52% of consumers said they prefer facial recognition for authentication at retail stores, banks, airports and offices during the COVID-19 crisis.

3D facial recognition technology accurately verifies individuals in a fraction of a second. It supports customer demands for speed and precision, especially in urban and/or quick-serve settings where people want fast service. It also eliminates the contact required for PINs or even fingerprint matching.

Contactless ordering is enabled by eye-gaze tracking or "air pointing"; using these methods, customers can place orders as quickly as with a touchscreen. Eye-gaze tracking only requires a sustained and directional look, while air pointing is accomplished with hand gestures. Learning curves are small to non-existent.

Payments are perhaps the most popular use of all. With a 3D camera there is no need to open a wallet or even reach for a smartphone. Once the person's identity is verified, pointing/tracking enables the customer to complete their purchase using a credit or debit account.

How customers benefit

Contactless 3D technology not only inhibits viral spread, but also improves the customer experience. It supports faster ordering (customers can quickly repeat a favorite or past order, for example) and enhances loyalty through verification-based offers, coupons and promotions, as well as personal preferences learned through past transactions. Moreover, 3D can improve loss prevention; fraud, theft and underage purchases can often be blocked through verification.

Practical and secure

As small as an AA battery, 3D cameras are no more expensive than a good 2D camera. The supporting software delivers financial-grade security through an encrypted mathematical model that verifies people by a complex digital string – not by personal identity.

Facial recognition is spoof-proof and incredibly reliable. It accurately verifies customers despite changes in facial hair, makeup, hair styles or colors, or headwear. The technology models the exact geometry of facial contours without being impacted by lighting or even the need for a color camera.

Already common throughout Asia, consumers are comfortable with facial "logins," not only because they're so fast and accurate, but also because people don't need their smartphones (nor do they have to download an app) to complete a purchase.

With little cost or effort, vendors can upgrade kiosks with 3D technology to create a touchless experience. Installers can also retrofit employee timeclocks with 3D to accommodate facial recognition. In addition to eliminating ghosting, the solution helps employees feel better about checking in for work because they realize their company, through contactless means, is protecting them.

Best of all, it's easy for businesses to acquire 3D camera technology through CARES funds. Whether for a large, nationwide chain or a single small business, 3D technology is practical and affordable.

As the world continues to change, businesses will need contactless technology to remain competitive. 3D cameras help keep customers safe and healthy; they assure patrons that the organization cares about their wellbeing. They also provide more data, support more capabilities and ensure a higher level of security with negligible investment.

COVID-19 may forever change the way people live, work and shop – but with 3D imaging, kiosk design will keep up with our new reality.


This article was written by David Chen from Digital Signage Today. News Features and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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David Chen