FAQ – Vending Machine Shopper Science Lab

18 March 2020 | FAQ

What is the difference between a facial recognition system and the Grottinilab software?

The software can determine the presence of a face through face detection, but it is not a facial recognition solution. In fact, Grottinilab only does the counting.

This means that the technology used is not able to recognize an individual, neither in absolute terms (i.e. determine the identity of a natural person) nor in relative terms (i.e. recognize the same person walking past again).

The software used can only understand whether an anonymous individual is in front of a point of interest and, from there, calculate the time of their stay and estimate basic demographic attributes such as gender, age and facial expression.

The software does not, and never will, produce data that can be used to identify a natural person.

What is the difference between user tracking systems and the Grottinilab software?

Unlike many existing technologies that use facial recognition or mobile phone tracking for marketing analysis, Grottinilab’s software does not try to discover the habits of individual shoppers, but only identifies the products that seem to be the most popular with them. The latter is to be understood, in a general sense, as aggregated and anonymous as the identification of the individual cannot be traced in any way.

Besides, the software does not attempt to find out the number of visits to a place by a particular individual. The objective of the software used is simply to count and describe (gender, age, frequency of passages and facial expressions) the shoppers walking past a point of interest. The measure is purely local and any return of the same person to the area of interest can never be re-associated to walking past previously.

Does Grottinilab provide to the registration of personal data?

No, the software produces and records only anonymous data (evincible in a string of metadata) that describe the demographic composition of a user. Grottinilab does not record or transmit any images or videos; the only data collected are anonymous numerical descriptors that indicate the number of viewers at a given time and their demographic composition.

What are the details of the anonymous data generated by the Grottinilab software?

For each person counted by the system, the software estimates:

  • gender (male or female)
  • age
  • facial expression (sad to happy)
  • time spent in front of the sensor

In addition to this data, the software produces an estimate of the total traffic in front of the sensor.

Who has access to this data?

Grottinilab is the Data Processor. All data generated and collected by the user measurement system are encrypted and sent securely to Grottinilab’s servers. Then, Grottinilab’s technicians upload the data on the server to special dashboards that are accessible only by Grottinilab’s customers (in this case, the vending machine companies). Each customer will only have access to their own dashboard, where there is only data related to their project. Under no circumstances will a client have access to another client’s dashboard and data related to other clients’ projects.

Clients are Data Controllers. The information is never sold or shared with third parties without the explicit approval of the clients.

What are the benefits for the consumer?

The information produced by the Grottinilab’s systems allows consumers to “vote” with their attention. This way, companies owning vending machines can understand what really interests the consumer and can therefore adapt to users’ preferences in a discreet and effective way, providing them with products and services that better meet their real needs without the specific user’s identity being identified in any way.

Is all this legal?

Grottinilab respects the privacy laws and regulations in force worldwide. Grottinilab works with its customers to obtain the authorization from a local authority.

Is the new European Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR) complied with?

The new European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on 25 May 2018, aims to strengthen consumer privacy and harmonize legislation at European level.

The rules introduced by the GDPR do not change the way Grottinilab operates because products are privacy friendly from the moment they are designed.

In any case, the individual Data Controllers are required to inform the public that the Grottinilab solution is operating; this can be done by means of an explanatory note placed near the measuring point or at the entrance of the building. The note must state that a collection of anonymous data is taking place and must contain a reference to further information on privacy by the operator.

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