Bri­tish start-up’s spy in the su­per­mar­ket aisle cuts thefts from Sains­bury’s out­lets by half

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Special Report: Feeding The Nation - By James Cook

AR­TI­FI­CIAL in­tel­li­gence tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by a Bri­tish start-up has been used by Sains­bury’s to halve the num­ber of thefts in its stores.

Lon­don-head­quar­tered ThirdEye has de­vel­oped soft­ware which can run on a su­per­mar­ket’s ex­ist­ing CCTV sys­tem in or­der to scan aisles for any signs of theft.

It works by analysing CCTV footage to de­tect cus­tomers who han­dle an un­usu­ally high num­ber of items in aisles that typ­i­cally ex­pe­ri­ence the high­est amount of theft.

The Gro­cer re­ported that the tech­nol­ogy was be­ing tri­aled in 20 Sains­bury’s branches, lead­ing to a 50pc drop in the theft of spir­its. The soft­ware de­tected 5,591 thefts in six months. ThirdEye de­clined to com­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to ThirdEye’s web­site, the com­pany’s tech­nol­ogy is able to an­a­lyse CCTV footage to de­tect whether thieves place items in their pocket or un­der their coat.

If a theft is de­tected, the soft­ware sends a short video clip to se­cu­rity guards who can in­ter­cept the sus­pect be­fore they leave the store.

It is also able to de­tect check­out theft, where a cus­tomer de­lib­er­ately fails to scan an item or items at a self­check­out.

The start-up is now work­ing on a so­cial dis­tanc­ing de­tec­tor which will help su­per­mar­kets to an­a­lyse whether shop­pers are stand­ing too close to each other dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic.

The use of AI tech­nol­ogy to re­duce the amount of theft from su­per­mar­kets has risen in re­cent years.

Amer­i­can su­per­mar­ket chain Wal­mart con­firmed last year that it uses AI theft de­tec­tion in more than 1,000 of its stores.

Ama­zon has also de­vel­oped soft­ware that uses a net­work of cam­eras on the ceil­ings of su­per­mar­kets to mon­i­tor shop­pers.

The tech­nol­ogy, which Ama­zon calls “Just Walk Out”, is be­ing li­censed to other com­pa­nies who want to em­u­late the ex­pe­ri­ence of an Ama­zon Go store, where shop­pers sign in with their Ama­zon ac­count and cam­eras iden­tify their pur­chases with­out them need­ing to go through a check­out.

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