Intel, AOPEN tablet for retailers recognises age, gender

Ivy Bridge powered eTILE available starting Sept 12

Intel's Matthew Jones shows an eTILE demo for fast food chain Noodle Box.

Intel's Matthew Jones shows an eTILE demo for fast food chain Noodle Box.

Large interactive tablets with facial recognition technology could appear in stores and other retail locations later this year.

At a press conference today in Sydney, Intel and AOPEN announced the eTILE, which is essentially a large tablet that can be attached to the wall or a kiosk. The eTILE is set to launch worldwide on 12 September.

The eTILE comes in 15.6in and 19in screen sizes. The 19in version demoed at the event is 30mm thick and weighs 4.7kg. The tablet incorporates an Ivy Bridge Intel Core processor and can run both Windows and Android.

The tablet can be used either for information or as a point-of-sale device. One live demo shown by AOPEN and Intel allowed users to swipe through various clothes. Another app on display, designed for fast-food restaurant Noodle Box, lets users make and pay for an order.

An HD camera on the eTILE and anonymous facial recognition technology allows retailers to customise what is shown on screen based on the demographic of the user.

“It could be a youth, it could be someone older, female, male, someone angry, not angry, whatever it is," said Matthew Jones, group manager for industry development at Intel Australia and New Zealand. “You now have the ability to actually change that experience, that content, and make it more personalised.”

For example, a department store could emphasise social media when a younger person approaches the kiosk, said Stephen Borg, AOPEN director of global strategy and market development.

Jones assured media that the facial recognition is anonymous. “It doesn’t identify the user. It is just basic algorithms about size and face.” The technology is accurate about demographics including age and gender about 98 per cent of the time, he said.

Borg said the device is rugged enough to resist possible damage by customers. Besides being dust-resistant and waterproof, Borg said that tests showed the tablet can take 20 million hits, with each blow at a weight of 180 grams.

AOPEN and Intel have also built the eTILE to be tamper-proof, for example by not including a power button. Instead, the devices are remotely operated, a feature that also lets retailers know when a device is not working properly.

The tablet represents the first time an Ivy Bridge-based device has supported both Android and Windows, Borg said. The Android support allows retailers to take an app they previously designed for tablets and easily transfer it to eTILE, he said. The device can run Windows 7 or 8, depending on the requirements of the particular app.

The eTILE can be connected to the Internet using Wi-Fi or a 3G mobile SIM card. For 3G, retailers can install the SIM card of any GSM carrier.

A major benefit of eTILE versus kiosks of the past is price, Borg said. He estimated that existing kiosks on average cost $3000 to $5000. Depending on the configuration, an eTILE can be had starting at $1300, he said. It’s also simpler and cheaper to install, he said.

At launch, AOPEN and Intel will have two software partners for eTILE: OpenSign and OrderMate. The first partners who are trialling the technology with their retail customers are Iso Bar, Engagis, Nuon and Ordermate.

Jones and Borg said the device is being tested by a variety of classic retailers, product vendors and large entertainment venues. However, they said they couldn’t yet disclose their names.

In some retail locations, it may be that a particular brand sold in the store will install the eTILE kiosk rather than the store itself, noted Borg. For example, an installation in Bunnings for buying toilets was actually done by the brand that makes the toilets, he said.

Jones said eTILE represents the latest evolution of digital signs. “This is just another step along the path from dynamic digital signage, to dynamic signage, to now intelligent signage,” he said.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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