All eyes are on Japan as the next big gaming market, though the opening of an IR in a country with top-notch technological advancements means that whole industry may gain from the process.
Japanese companies are already becoming involved in the gaming industry, with NEC Corp. a key example.
One can tell that a company is deeply rooted in a country's economic history when it is named Nippon Electric Company, which basically means "Japan Electric Company". Now known to the world as NEC, the company founded in 1898, now has over 100,000 employees internationally and is listed in the Fortune 500.
While the IT and electronics giant is synonymous with monitors and PC products, an added emphasis on facial recognition technology and smart-hospitality in recent years has created business opportunities in the security, hospitality, and even casino sectors.
NEC’s Takashi Tsukahara, manager of the Value Creation Division explains that, “facial recognition technology is a natural evolution of authentication methods we developed in the past. Fingerprint, voice and retinal authentication are just some examples. Facial recognition is much more convenient for the user and the individuals being monitored. There is no need to go through a complicated registration of data or deal with physical touch."
Fingerprint, voice, and retinal authentication requires the registering individual to be available in person. However, facial recognition technology can register an individual by photo or video feed. This point is essential for security efficiency and problem gambling prevention in the form of self-exclusion or family requested exclusion. There is also less risk of fake IDs and the technology can also pinpoint certain facial expressions or action patterns that prelude a possible crime. An increased awareness of the technology will help to prevent crimes from happening in the first place.
The Tokyo-based company’s recent facial recognition security installation at the Merit Lefkosa Casino in Northern Cyprus has seen very positive results. The property has had clear improvements in security productivity, meaning less manpower required for security checks and monitoring suspicious activity. The solution also has shown signs of improved the customer experience with less registering and waiting times.
Not satisfied with just providing the technology, NEC has been working to bring an all-encompassing solution to the forefront. Tsukahara states that the company’s existing market share in the Japanese hospitality industry will be a key factor in a more integrated facial recognition data system, where airport security, hotel procedures, stadium and amusement park passes, and other aspects of tourism are all tied into one. He describes that “similar to how QR codes work, a person’s face will become their own personal QR code. One can then check in at their hotel, enter stadiums and shows, and pay for products without even needing to take out their smartphone, and with higher security.”
Japan is most likely to be opening their first IR around 2025, which means that the security framework must be ready in the immediate future in order to be implemented in time for the opening, and possibly earlier when considering that the structure design directly affects security measures. On that point, Tsukahara lists this year’s Rugby World Cup and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 as two major opportunities for not only NEC, but other new technologies to gain exposure on an international stage. “We are sponsoring the event, but also taking part with our technology as a means to show a new world in which facial recognition is a norm” he explains. The company is providing the facial recognition solution for security checks in places like the athlete’s village and event venues, making sure only authorized personnel can enter any restricted area.
While acknowledging that a full-fledge system tying together immigration data with private business data will need a regulation framework in both the public and private sectors, Tsukahara feels that this type of long-term solution will enhance the user experience for every party involved. Also touching upon the fact that the plan requires cooperation across various industries and even with rival companies, Tsukahara adds, “In regards to working across platforms with different manufacturers, we would like to promote technological advancements and take a leading a role in working with all parties.”
From a gaming industry standpoint, security and problem gambling prevention are two issues that facial recognition directly addresses.
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