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IoT Intelligence Driven Outcomes for Retail and Sports Venues

The last 18 months have yielded unprecedented disruption to businesses, with retailers in particular experiencing a vastly changed consumer buying environment. Consumers have become quite comfortable with buying online, requiring retailers to now reimagine the customer experience. Experiences that focus on building “relationship” which is now as important as “transaction”. Critical to becoming customer-obsessed and reigniting growth, is technology and data which fuel intelligent outcomes specific to customer experience.

When we first came to market in 2012, we were quite sure sensors were mission critical to what we wanted to do. We architected and engineered for the “edge” compute space, and we were acutely aware of the need to move beyond mere dots on maps when we brought BlueforceTACTICAL to market almost nine years ago. Endusers in the military, intelligence community, and public safety sectors drove us to consider “context” around these two-dimensional dots on maps. To the commander working in a rapidly evolving incident and direct action environment, “context” equals millisecond awareness of sensor data from responders, sensors proximate to them, overhead streaming assets, as well as cognitive support services which help “make sense” in rapidly evolving threat environments.

Our partnership with Samsung has been a catalyst for “dual-use” where military and national security IoT is repurposed for commercial outcomes. Like us, Samsung thinks about outcomes, and how technology can support business and retail transformation. As early as April 2020, Samsung was delivering solutions that enabled “Back to Work” and “Back to School” which was based on direct market needs specific to “business continuity”. The question that supported nearly all outcomes was simple: How can we leverage IoT sensors, AI/rules, and intelligent displays, to get business back on track by delivering a safe and unprecedented consumer experience. Blueforce is delivering on this today through our IoT fusion and orchestration engine present in BlueforceEDGE where we can leverage, fuse, and cue legacy sensors in an establishment, but also net new sensors to drive outcomes for retail that include:

  • Capturing “Walk-by” Attention: The use of anonymized sensor data that yields insights into volume of traffic that “walks past” a location by daypart and can serve up dynamic content to window displays that converts “walk-by” traffic into “walk-in” traffic.
  • Product Education: A PriceWaterhouseCoopers study found that 66% of retail shoppers indicated they couldn’t find all of the information necessary to make a buy. Existing and new IoT sensors with orchestration can now offer up real-time promotions, but also real-time education on features and benefits on in-store intelligent displays.
  • Wait time and distribution of Buy: How many times have we stood in a massive line to buy food and beverages at an arena or stadium? Multi-sensor fusion can quickly deliver smart content that informs the consumer that if they walk to the next gate, the line is less than 3 minutes.

WHY BLUEFORCE

The speed of innovation in IoT and AI presents an opportunity for commercial and retail to quickly evolve and deliver new outcomes through the use of best-in-class devices and stream analytics. Too often though, IoT devices and tools create unintended silos of data which degrade coordination across dissimilar sensor types and manufacturers which in turn yields missed opportunity in time-sensitive decision environments. BlueforceEDGE and the rest of the Blueforce product set were engineered and built to solve the challenges of multi-sensor and multi-manufacturer sensor fusion, cueing, and orchestration by delivering:

  • Edge IoT and AI Fusion Engine: Blueforce was built to enable a “single pane of glass view” through the use of our decentralized fusion engine which processes multi-sensor and multi-manufacturer sensor data in real-time, and then makes the data available to other sensors and information systems.
  • Rapid Adaptation and Future-Proof: Blueforce supports more than 200 sensors from more than 90 manufacturers today, but our “Plugin” SDK and APIs allow organizations to go from concept to capability in as short as four business days as new best-in-class sensors, algorithms, and services become available.
  • Sensor Correlation and Cueing: Our “Inter-Process Messaging” (IPM) enables data transfer and even cueing where data from one sensor informs another sensor of data and/or events for processing or action; even across dissimilar sensor types and manufacturers.
  • Military grade encryption and privacy controls: Blueforce was built for national security which required use of military-grade encryption, authentication, and access controls. With this came the need for multi-level security, where data and attributes could be anonymized based on ones “need to know”. With the emergence of regulations specific to data protection and privacy, Blueforce delivers, out-of-the-box.

DUAL-USE IoT EXAMPLES FOR RETAIL AND COMMERCIAL OUTCOMES

Innovators inside of our partner channels, as well as merchandisers from a number of consumer products and big box chains, were the first to recognize the dual-use opportunity for sensors in the Blueforce ecosystem. They were also first to recognize and reuse existing IoT assets in the environment. IoT that was deployed for loss prevention was quickly envisioned for use in enhancing the consumer experience through targeted messaging and education. Consider the following actions that are being affected today using Blueforce and intelligent displays:

  • WELCOME: Thermopile sensors measure temperature from a distance by detecting an object’s infrared (IR) energy. The higher the temperature, the more IR energy is emitted. The thermopile sensing element, composed of small thermocouples on a silicon chip, absorb the energy and produce an output signal. Blueforce can receive detections and quickly flip content based on any number of business rules to include day and time of day.
  • TOTAL AUDIENCE: Signal sensors are perfect for the anonymous measurement of traffic that walks or drives past the front door of a business providing valuable data specific to dayparts and traffic trends, which is used to serve inviting, distinctive, and interesting content to lure consumers into the establishment.
  • LOITER: Anonymized face counting using legacy imagers, fused with timers, provide a passive means to measure “loiter time” specific to the time a consumer studies a product, and can be used to cue content as well as human engagement to influence a purchase.
  • LIFT AND LEARN: Axis imagers are widely deployed for loss prevention, but the same cameras can be used for “Lift and Learn” where virtual trigger boxes and/or virtual trip wires can fire events that cue Blueforce when a consumer has engaged with a product. Blueforce then triggers dynamic content that provides further information and education specific to the product being studied on a proximate intelligent display.
  • TARGETED MESSAGING: Blueforce today supports a wide array of stream analytics and cognitive services that can deliver fully anonymous demographic and sentiment data which can be used for highly targeted messaging on intelligent displays.

ANNOUNCING THE SAMSUNG MAGICINFO V2 PLUGIN FOR BLUEFORCE EDGE

Last August 2020, near the height of the COVID pandemic, Blueforce announced the shipment of our new Samsung MagicINFO Plugin V1 for BlueforceEDGE. The plugin enabled a 100% edge capability that took multi-sensor data and enabled dynamic “flipping” of content on one or more MagicINFO enabled intelligent displays. The capability then allowed networked digital signage from Samsung to be integrated directly into Blueforce Internet of Things (IoT) and stream analytic workflows to provide hyper-local and context sensitive information to manage human traffic flow and distancing, while communicating accurate and timely information to customers and employees alike.

Today, we are announcing the general availability of the Samsung MagicINFO Plugin V2 for BlueforceEDGE Windows. The plugin extends beyond the basic V1 peer-to-peer content switching and now also leverages the MagicINFO V9 REST/JSON APIs enabling a wide array of display and content control to include “channels” which can hold basic content or enhanced content to include playlists, multimedia, and more. The plugin sports the Blueforce Inter-Process Message interface allowing for cueing from dissimilar sensors and/or information services using authenticated machine-to-machine connections as well as enhanced rules for content triggering and reset/defaults.