The retail giant Kroger is using infrared cameras in 95 percent of its stores, and if all goes as planned, no one will even notice the cameras are there.
A system called QueVision, first established in 2010, puts cameras above store entrances and cash registers, runs that data through secret-sauce software, then displays the number of registers currently open and predicts how many will need to be open in 30 minutes.
Infrared cameras are better known for their military and law enforcement applications; they can find people at night hiding beneath camouflage or trying to conceal themselves in wilderness. Why use them for grocery stores?
Turns out, infrared cameras also work fine in regular light, and because they pick up on heat signatures, they're better than visual spectrum cameras at distinguishing people from their backgrounds. If the machine's purpose is to just count new warm bodies entering a store or others waiting in line, infrared is the exact right spectrum to use.
Ultimately, the technology serves a more mundane goal than its advanced origins imply. QueVision is about more efficiently using labor, allowing the store to better plan staffing needs and meet rushes without needing to hire more people or diminishing the quality of the shopping experience. It's a similar logic to self-checkout lines.
There's a couple cool things to learn from this. First, it's sometimes impossible to see how decades later a technology devised for one purpose will be used. Second, sometimes those new uses will be really, really boring.
Here is an absurd safari-themed training video about the importance of QueVision:
That's nothing. Your large store of any type like to hire current and ex-military employees, especially for loss prevention. One of my favorite large shopping centers has two ex-Rangers who will gladly kick the crap out of people who stay and try to act tough before running down and kicking the crap out of their friends. As many times as I've seen their little show it never gets old.
In the security world we call them thermal imagers or FLIR cameras.
LOL at quasi's comment above. Stop with the tough guy shtick. If you've ever worked for any large retail store, especially for security, you'd know that the guards are strictly forbidden from making physical contact with a customer, nevermind "kicking the crap out of them". No large retail chain is going to risk the liability and negative publicity of allowing their guards to touch anyone.
Auroria the article says these cameras are not for catching anyone.
I don't think this application is boring as the article suggests. I'm thinking if you have cameras that see both visible and infra red you could more easily image a human in the visible spectrum instead of using complicated shape recognition software the camera just finds the bright spot in IR then snaps a pic in visible light. Or finds people in IR and tells the face recognition software what areas of the scene it needs to process.