ADT Commercial is investing more than $1 million in Percepta Labs, an AI startup that is trying to give retailers a more ethical surveillance option. Percepta’s solution leverages computer vision to watch for shoplifters, but does so while stripping identifying information like race, age, and gender.
The anonymizing solution was developed to address the privacy concerns associated with more invasive facial recognition systems. The Percepta system examines particular behaviors rather than demographic information, allowing shop owners to crack down on shoplifting without perpetuating racial biases. It also helps build trust because customers know that the shop is not gathering their personal information.
According to ADT, the Percepta system is twice as accurate as human staff when it comes to identifying potential shoplifters. The company will support the ongoing testing and development of the surveillance technology, and will then help Percepta bring the system to the market once it reaches the commercialization phase.
“We’re proud to place our support in forward-thinking organizations like Percepta,” said ADT EVP Dan Bresingham. “We believe Percepta could signal a tidal shift in how we approach AI, facial recognition, and data collection, and we look forward to seeing how their technology continues to develop.”
“AI’s presence in our lives has skyrocketed, yet it poses ethical concerns that have not been sufficiently addressed,” added Percepta CEO and Co-Founder Philippe Sawaya. “We’ve made these concerns a key priority and have developed an ethical AI technology that counteracts these biases in the world of retail and beyond.”
Face-based surveillance systems recently came under fire after police used one to make a false arrest in a robbery investigation in Michigan. Onfido has since revealed that it is retraining its own facial recognition algorithm in an effort to reduce racial bias, while Grand View Research has identified ADT as one of the leading players in the burgeoning physical security market.