China Mobile enters second phase of smart retail transformation

  • June 9, 2020
  • imc

China Mobile is starting the second phase of its project to bring smart technology into nearly 18,000 of its retail stores.

In the first phase of the project, facial-ID, traffic counting and smart queue management systems have already been installed into operation. Smart queue management has been implemented in more than 2000 stores across China, with a target of 5000 stores by the end of 2020.

The system allows customers to use the company’s mobile app or WeChat to find the nearest stores using location-based technology, and then allows the customer to get the queue status of each store in real time, and to get an electronic queue ticket for online queuing. The system helps distribute customer traffic to different stores and uses electronic queue ticketing to replace traditional paper ticketing, leading to improved store operation efficiency and customer experience.

The second phase of the project adds incident detection functionalities, including:

Stranger intrusion alerting: generates a warning if unauthorised personnel trespass in monitored or sensitive areas.
Fire detection: signals if a fire or smoke is detected in monitored areas.
Object recognition and placement monitoring: alerts if an object is missing or moved from its original placement.
Overcrowding detection: counts number of visitors, and generates a warning if the number exceeds the given capacity.
Staff attendance management: monitors the duration of staff absence from appointed duties.
Customer loitering prevention: detects loitering times of individual visitors and groups of visitors in monitored areas, alerting management if times exceed predetermined thresholds.
Dress code compliance monitoring: the system automatically checks the dress code of staff, who are only allowed to begin a shift if standards are met.
Mask wearing compliance monitoring: during the period of the pandemic, the system generates a warning if personnel or customers are not wearing proper facial protection.
The incident detection module being implemented during the second phase uses front-end cameras to collect video data, uses AI algorithms to analyse the video input and automatically perform incident-detection functionalities, and supports a 24-hour-per-day real-time monitoring programme.

The system immediately identifies abnormal events and behaviour, generates warnings in real time, archives any evidence, sends notification to the operator, and establishes workflow automation for pre-event alerting, allowing for a fast response when events happen.

Alarm data such as event type, processing status, processed rate and event time are summarised and analysed in real time for determining related patterns. The backend of the smart management system can effectively gather the data of all stores. With the multiple dimension metrics from queue management, to store standardisation, abnormal environment, incident analysis and others, the smart management level of each store can be been increased.

Remark Holdings, a technology company specialising in artificial intelligence (AI) and digital media properties, won the phase two contract with its partner Hanvon Technology, a publicly listed Chinese systems integrator, to transform China Mobile’s 17,800 corporate stores into smart retail stores.

Remark’s China-based subsidiary KanKan AI partnered with Hanvon to win the contract.

“Hanvon Technology and KanKan AI will strengthen our partnership with China Mobile as we were awarded the second phase of the project by jointly advancing the adoption of innovative AI technology for China Mobile’s smart telecom operator store project,” said Li Bin, deputy general manager of Hanvon Technology.

The project is expected to be delivered over the next two years. Phase one includes the upgrade of more than 17,800 stores across the entire country and is valued at $50m to Remark. The second phase of the project will deliver an additional several million dollars to Remark resulting from a multi-year recurring software licence for the software application modules.

“KanKan AI is excited to continue our deep cooperation with Hanvon Technology,” said Kai-Shing Tao, Remark’s CEO. “By combining their hardware expertise and sales channel with our advanced AI technology research and development, we expect the partnership will not only allow us to win more contacts together with China Mobile, but also expand our business in the smart telecom retail store market. China Mobile’s successful results from early phase-one implementations have resulted in an expanded commitment to our additional offerings. Our award winning AI offers corporations a suite of applications that can be implemented in conjunction with existing security hardware.”