Many people are accused of shoplifting and a shoplifting lawyer is hired for legal representation. However, Tokyo startup Vaak has introduced new artificial intelligence software that can monitor the body language of shoppers and the signs that they are planning to shoplift. The software is expected to deter persons from shoplifting.
The VaakEye software works differently from tech products that match faces to criminal records. VaakEye uses behavior to anticipate criminal action. According to Ryo Tanaka, the founder of Vaak, a team fed the algorithm with 1,000 hours of surveillance data to train the software in monitoring everything from the facial expressions of shoppers to their movements and clothing.
According to Vaak, during the test period of VaakEye in local convenience stores in Japan, losses due to shoplifting have dropped by 77%. According to Global Shrink Index, the software can reduce global retail costs from shoplifting that has reached $34 million in 2017.
Meanwhile, the use of artificial intelligence to catch shoplifters has raised some ethical questions. Euromontior retail analyst Michelle Grant is questioning the legality and morals of preventing a person from entering a store because of the software. Software developer Tanaka said that the software only provides information of suspicious persons that have been detected. It is still the store that decides on who are the criminals.
Liberty, a human rights charity is also campaigning to ban the use of facial recognition software in the United Kingdom. Liberty is worried that the retail environment is starting to perform a police function. A recent MIT and Stanford University study revealed that several commercial facial analysis programs fuel discrimination. However, VaakEye analyses human behavior not by skin type or gender.
Another concern is transparency. Are consumers willing to sacrifice privacy when they enter a store? Consumers must be aware that facial recognition technology is being used so that they will have an option.
It is not unusual for shoplifting lawyer to be called by an accused to visit the crime scene and investigate the evidence of a store that a crime has been committed. There are many circumstances wherein a person has been wrongly accused of shoplifting without any proper evidence.