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Garden centre’s face covering check

A case study of a garden centre in Yorkshire, using face-covering detection as a response to the UK Government’s requirement for face coverings in shops.

On arrival, Whiteley’s customers meet an interactive screen showing customised messages depending on whether they are wearing a face covering or not. The screen is connected to a camera at the entrance, powered by deep learning, that is taught to identify whether a person in a specific area is wearing a cover over their mouth and nose.

The face-covering detection system – called Covered – was developed by the West Yorkshire-based technology distributor Videcon and comes with a customisable digital display. It allows for a range of notification options to suit the user, from audio warnings to staff, to controlling access to the premises. As shops are not necessarily held responsible for enforcing customer compliance with the recently introduced face-covering regulations, notifications by Covered present retailers with a user-friendly solution, while still increasing shoppers’ confidence that appropriate safety measures are in place, the product distributor says.

Retail staff as well as customers are required to wear face coverings under the latest rules introduced by the Government on Tuesday, September 22; retailers face a fine of up to £10,000 if they fail to comply. Since bringing in the new tech, Whiteley’s has reported an almost 90 per cent decline in customers refusing to wear face coverings. Besides, Whiteley’s management no longer has to allocate a member of staff at the door.

Mirfield-based Whiteley’s General Manager, Peter Williams said: “Customers’ and employees’ safety should be a top priority for all retailers in the current environment. I was very excited to see how our visitors reacted to this new system and I must admit I was overwhelmed with the volume of positive feedback we’ve received from customers and employees respectively since the installation by Videcon.

“Our customers are feeling safer coming into the centre knowing that we are doing our best to support national efforts to suppress the virus and our employees are very appreciative of the technology removing the confrontational element, asking customers to put on their mask. In addition to the safety benefits, we have also seen immediate financial gains to our business in the form of an increased number of visitors, and reallocation of the resource.”

Covered was developed as part of Videcon’s wider Detect & Protect range, using deep learning aimed at supporting businesses to keep customers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pictured; General Manager, Peter Williams.


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