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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Malaysian Online Casino ban hits Playtech shareholders

Playtech stocks fall after Malaysia blocks Online Casino websites

 November 12, 2014

Internet gambling is big business all around the globe, even in regions where the activity is expressly prohibited by law. In Malaysia, playing casino game over the 'net is a crime, but that hasn't stopped countless users from logging on, making deposits and playing online blackjack, slots and other wagering amusements. In an effort to fortify its stance against the activity, the Malaysian government blocked 170 iGaming websites this week, sending Playtech shares into a downward spiral.

Playtech is a leading developer of internet gambling software, producing everything from online blackjack and slots games to poker, bingo and sports betting platforms. Playtech is currently the largest supplier of iGaming software in the entire industry. According to CasinoCity's online gaming analysts, Playtech powers 299 online gambling websites, making up 9% of the world wide web's 3,294 known operators.

When the Malaysian government announced its intentions to block 170 online blackjack, poker and sports betting sites, Playtech took a huge hit in the wallet. The software company's shares immediately plummet nearly 9%, down to 635.5p. A statement issued by Playtech said that it is "monitoring the position closely and, regardless of the potential impact of any changes in the Malaysian market, remains confident of meeting the latest market consensus, following the recent Q3 IMS, for 2014 and beyond."

As of 2011, Playtech's records showed that 8% of its revenues were generated by Malaysian clientele. The software developer's presence has spread significantly throughout regulated Asian and European markets since then, but the blockage of so many iGaming domains won't go unnoticed in the company's bottom line.

Playtech's financial reports for the first half of 2014 showed revenue of €212.4 million, only 35% of which came from regulated online wagering markets. The other 65% was generated from unregulated markets like Malaysia, where online blackjack and other types of internet betting are either illegal or not expressly authorized by law.

Considering Malaysia's crackdown on illegal online gambling, combined with the UK Gambling Commission's recent implementation of a license requirement  and POC tax in order to accept UK bettors, industry analysts are certain that more jurisdictions will impose similar regulations and blockages in the near future. With that said, if Playtech loses even half of its customers in unregulated markets, the results could be devastating.

Gamblers in Malaysia are outraged by the injunction as well. The majority of the country's population is Muslim, who are generally known to shy away from such activities as gambling. While it's not publically accepted, there are still countless Malaysians that like to gamble. There is only one brick-and-mortar casino authorized to operate in Malaysia, and due to the outward view of most citizens, it caters mostly to affluent tourists, leaving residents of the country with little other choice than to spend their wagering dollars on the internet.

What's upset online blackjack fans in particular is the fact that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) keeps making alarmist statements on the matter. Earlier this week, the Chairman of the MCMC stated that online gambling websites are nothing more than crooks looking to pilfer the financial details of account holders. While some iGaming sites are rogue operators with duplicitous intentions, the majority of them – including every single one that made the list of 170 blockages – are reputable, legally licensed websites regulated by other jurisdictions.

Friday, July 10, 2015

TPG's David Teoh - Reclusive Malaysian prospers Down Under - The Rakyat Post

BUSINESS  PUBLISHED: 18 February 2015, 2.40 pm

Reclusive Malaysian prospers Down Under


A rare photo of TPG executive chairman, CEO and managing director David Teoh. - Pic courtesy of Listcorp

SYDNEY, Feb 18:

TPG Telecom is one of the biggest communications firms in Australia, but little is known about its Malaysian-born founder David Teoh, 60.

Virtually unrecognisable to the public, David and his Taiwan-born wife Vicky, 59, take pride in their privacy, hardly giving any interviews and almost never photographed in public.

With a worth of US$1.5 billion (RM5.3 billion), David and his wife are amongst the richest people in Australia. David is ranked 17th richest by Forbes while BRW in 2013 ranked Vicky as the richest self-made female Down Under due to her own 18% stake in TPG.

In a rare interview with Australian Financial Review, David said that he wants to build his own wholesale broadband network in built-up city areas around Australia.

He added that TPG would provide 500,000 apartments with fibre cabling and faster internet speeds as a result of the scheme. "It is very important that we have our own infrastructure.

"This will mean we don't rely on anyone and control our own destiny, from the last mile to the backhaul, to the international cables and voice networks."

Emigrating from Malaysia to Australia in the mid-1980s, the couple originally ran a computer hardware store called Total Peripherals Group (TPG).

But by betting on the growing Internet services in the start of the 21st century, TPG grew at an incredible speed to what it is today.

A reverse takeover of SP Telemedia led to a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange where now TPG is valued at around A$3.5 billion (RM9.7 billion).

His wife Vicky and their four sons Shane, Jack, John and Bob are also pumping in millions into start-up companies and incubators in every major Australia capital city, reported BRW.

The family has a growing network of start-ups selling clothes, accessories and consumer technology, which is being driven largely by Vicky and the four sons.

"One start-up is Sofia Furniture – an online furniture retailer co-founded by Jack Teoh and a friend from the University of NSW, Steve Davis," reported BRW.

"Shane Teoh owns 34% of Brand Table, another venture with Steve Davis that was launched in 2011, which utilises near-field communication technology to allow customers at food courts to order and pay with their smartphones.

"There's Jekkle, a website for students to buy or rent cheap university textbooks. Shane and Jack own 49%. Jack owns a quarter of Tom Ascott, a men's shoe retailer with a beautiful website.

"On the women's fashion side of things there's Elle Tassy, half owned by the four Teoh brothers and founded by high-school graduates Lucia Pang and Natasha Bordizzo.

"Then there's Coal of Queensland Holdings Ltd, in which Jack and Shane are directors. There's Total Forms, owned by Jack, John and Shane.

"John and Shane own most of Cococolours. Durian Mountain is owned by David and Vicky. Bob and Jack own Petblue Pty Ltd.

"John Teoh owns 80% of The Coco Company. Bob owns half of Petdash. Others with Teoh connections include Small Mountain and Coal of Queensland.

"The picture that emerges is of a family running a lean start-up model out of their own home, launching business after business, backed with money, property and connections."

Read more:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

5 Common Mistakes When Hiring A CIO

5 Common Mistakes When Hiring A CIO
David Akka5 Common Mistakes When Hiring A CIO
Having worked with some of the UK's largest companies both helping define their technology needs and identifying future leaders, it has become clear that technology success depends strongly on finding the right CIO. No surprise there, but the challenge is that there are very different types of CIO and which one you need can depend on your company and even where you are in your technology projects.
Here are the five common mistakes made when hiring a CIO which can make the difference between success and failure.
1 Misjudging leadership skills

As a senior role, CIOs will have built a personal style and brand upon their skills, experiences and accomplishments, and this represents their unique value. It also gives you hints as to h they will react to situations and challenges as well as which environments they will feel comfortable managing. Many CIO candidates will either try to present themselves as being up to every challenge  or as meeting the current requirements of the position, making it hard to accurately evaluate their strengths.  
Try to drill past how your CIO candidates present themselves, and understand what kind of leader they are. Successful CIOs can be broken out into three broad types:
  • The strategic CIO is an excellent big-picture person, comfortable planning what platforms, customers, and types of information the company needs for the future. The strategic CIO will usually be a strong negotiator with a deep understanding of business needs, who works well with other parts of the business to understand how technology can enable their success
  • The transformational CIO is the driver of change once the business has a strategic roadmap in place. While neither a broad thinker nor obsessive over details, the transformational CIO is focused on the key business goal and constantly driving towards it. The transformational CIO also needs to be a great communicator to understand where projects are delivering value or falling short
  • The operational CIO is what you need when there are no transformational projects, as you need someone who will ensure that services are running smoothly and who can drive evolutionary improvements in performance and cost
You may be able to find one CIO who can move between these roles, but frequently these different types of leader will join a company for the type of work they are best suited to and move on. Embracing this allows you to access the best strategic and transformational skills as well as excellent operational managers when they are needed. The alternative is usually ending up with a generalist who tries to cover all the areas but never really manages to deliver the best business value as a result.
A word of warning: the three types of CIO I described above are the three that really deliver technology leadership. You also get less valuable ones, such as the dinosaur who will actively resist new technology and innovation; the firefighter who love solving problems but struggles to create a structured, planned and successful environment; and the "techie" who really loves technology but fails to secure business support for projects.
In order to find which type your candidates are, check specific work experience and look for concrete examples.

2 Mismatching leadership style and organizational needs

When you're under pressure to hire and have a great candidate you'll be tempted to hire them before they get snapped up somewhere else. However, you need to qualify that their experience fits with your company, both from an industry and size perspective. CIOs can face very different challenges in different industries, particularly in heavily regulated areas such as financial services. You also find that depending on the age and size of the company, you need different leadership styles:
  • Startups need CIOs who can get great results from small teams in an environment that is constantly changing. As the business is likely to change frequently with launches of new products and in new markets, CIOs need to be able to drive change and unafraid to get their hands dirty. As such the transformational CIO is very useful, but this is also an environment where the generalist can be very successful
  • In rapidly growing businesses the transformational CIO is a strong choice as they tend to be able to build the core structures the business will need to grow around; as well as a vision of how IT will be an enabler. These characteristics could also suit a strategic CIO especially if growth is slower
  • Established, mature businesses are the natural home of the operational CIO who will continually improve performance and efficiency, but be aware that the strategic CIO will be needed in order to drive future innovation and avoid getting trapped by legacy technologies
Remember that people rarely fit into neatly defined boxes and CIOs will often have multiple skills. The list above is a guide as to the types of mindset that are likely to be successful, but they aren't exclusive: for example, you may well be able to find an operational CIO who is also able to see the big picture and plan future change.

3 Lacking relevant experience for IT challenges

You might think that a CIO is a CIO, but due to the level of specialist knowledge in IT, you end up with infrastructure CIOs, startup CIOs, internet CIOs, turnaround CIOs and many more, as well as the more general strategic, transformational and operational mindsets described above. Without qualifying this, you really have no idea whether their experiences will suit the challenges your business faces. Four types that stand out are:
  • Infrastructure CIOs could be considered the "original recipe" of CIOs: they reduce costs, manage contracts and legacy technology and ensure IT services work
  • Integration CIOs are focused on driving business value by breaking down silos and connecting systems such as Cloud and legacy environments
  • Intelligence CIOs are focused on bringing usable, intelligent data (Big or otherwise) to the business: connecting the right people with the right data where and when they need it, in an actionable way
  • Innovation CIOs identify disruptive technologies and figure out how to apply them to the enterprise; this role has become hyped to the extent that some companies have created a position of "Chief Innovation Officer" separate from the CIO role.
Once again, remember that your CIO will be an individual, not a job title, and your company and its needs are unique. Therefore your ideal CIO will probably have a mix of these attributes and you should identify who is right for you by looking for concrete experiences and approaches that fit your business.


4 Not validating experience with clear proof points

Resume padding is a major headache when hiring for any position, because it can lead you to hire a mediocre leader or poorly qualify their suitability for your company. Looking for concrete accomplishments helps validate that you're looking at the right person and gives you more confidence that they really have the leadership skills they claim.
Accomplishments don't only give you valuable insights into how the candidate might act as CIO, but also what real experiences they have in managing projects. Your CIO may be naturally inclined towards strategic thinking, for example, but if they also have a strong track record of delivering projects or improving day-to-day management, then you know they have the skills to make an impact in that area as well.

 5 Not weighing in political prowess

The days when a CIO could just be the "top techie" are long gone, and today the best CIOs are dedicated to making IT drive business value by understanding the needs of other business units.  This means that you need to look beyond technical and management skills to understand which of your candidates can really make a difference at board level. Regardless of past experience, different political skills determine whether your next CIO will be able to make most headway on implementations, balancing IT and business needs, optimising business processes or managing transformation.

David Akka is the CEO of ABRS - Smart Recruitment Search.
To read more from David please check his blog
To lean more about ABRS please visit ABRS website or check its LinkedIn page

8 Reasons For Killing Annual Performance Evaluations

8 Reasons For Killing Annual Performance Evaluations
Marton Jojarth

VP Customer Success - Raising the bar for customer experience
8 Reasons For Killing Annual Performance Evaluations
I recently had the pleasure of attending the MIX Mashup management conference. The mission of MIX (short for Management Innovation eXchange) is to collect and spread ideas for innovative management techniques for how we inspire employees, increase their job satisfaction, and improve their value for shareholders. Some of the innovative ideas for revolutionizing management came from companies on the cutting edge of changing how we work: Zappos, GE, and McKinsey & Company, just to name a few.
While the ideas and new methods for management passed around at the conference were inspiring and innovative, everyone was stuck on what is the best way to conduct annual performance reviews. There was agreement on one thing: no one enjoys the dreaded annual performance evaluation process. Managers hate doing it and employees rarely look forward to seeing the results or participating in the process. Yet, no one at the conference could provide a solution for making the process more effective and useful, and all companies present admitted to not knowing how to fix it.
Here is my solution for improving the annual performance evaluation game: stop doing it. Annual performance reviews are unnecessary, wasteful, and worst of all, demotivating. Here are the reasons I think we need to eliminate these reviews entirely:
1. The most hard working employees are set up to fail
Only those employees who care about their professional growth care about performance reviews. Yet, they are set up for disappointment. Most managers are only allowed to give out a handful of top ratings in order to enforce a bell curve. In other cases the standards needed to reach the top rating are purposely set impossibly high. Either way, most of the workers who want to do better, who strive to get the best reviews are likely to fall short and be disappointed at annual review time, no matter how hard they worked throughout the year.

2. Linking pay increases to performance ratings is unfair

It is common practice to link pay increases to the results of annual performance evaluations, but I see this as encouraging unfair disparities in pay. Imagine two employees who work for the same company for 10 years straight, both starting out with the same salary, both getting the midpoint performance rating for nine years and both getting the top grade one year. Unless both of them get the top grade in the same year, they earn a different amount of money over the course of the decade – for no other reason than the timing of their breakout performance. That is not fair. Netflix is one company that has done away with performance-linked pay increases. Instead, they base pay rate changes on the market value of each position, not each individual. This provides a much fairer basis for salaries.

3. Annual reviews are often out of date

Most companies conduct the annual review process two to three months after the end of the year. This means that feedback provided in the review could be as old as 15 months. Much of the information in an annual review is obsolete by the time the employee gets it.

4. Annual feedback is likely to be off target

If managers write reviews based on their observations only, those reviews are necessarily biased and one-sided. Sometimes managers include feedback from other employees, or even customers, which helps, but still does not create a complete picture. It is too easy to miss key points or to misunderstand why an employee has failed to meet a goal.

5. Positive feedback cannot be taken at face value

Getting positive comments about what you are doing right is always more motivating than negative critiques, but is no more timely or accurate. Employees know this and often do not bother to take those positive comments to heart.

6. One-sided feedback is patronizing

Performance feedback always comes from the top down. The one-way communication never makes an employee feel good. Even when employees are asked to write self-assessments, the managers' views rule. If it were possible to truly have a two-way conversation about performance, the process might be more instructive and uplifting.

7. Annual reviews are a chore most managers do grudgingly

Proponents of the annual performance evaluation say the process is important because managers rarely give any feedback throughout the year. This is true, and ongoing feedback would be more useful than annual feedback. However, some managers do not give real-time coaching because they simply do not care to do so. That attitude does not improve at annual evaluation time, and the quality of performance reviews written up by these managers is likely to be inadequate.

8. Subjective assessments result in arbitrary bonuses

An argument used for conducting annual performance reviews is that they are needed for determining bonuses. Bonuses determined on the basis of inaccurate readings of performance are likely to be unfair. Using objective criteria and metrics is a better approach for determining bonuses than a subjective evaluation process.
The bottom line is that the process of giving annual performance evaluations is inaccurate, unfair, demoralizing, demotivating, and a waste of company time. The only good way to conduct this kind of review is to not do it at all. Instead, how about we give employees real-time feedback that they can actually use to improve personally and professionally? Or, how about emphasizing more the use of role modeling and mentoring to encourage and motivate employees? There are so many ways to help our employees grow. Conducting an annual review is not one of them.
Marton Jojarth is a Silicon Valley Executive who is passionate about Customer Service. His blog aims to inspire curiosity and discussion about the true value of customer service and innovative management techniques to increase results. Click to like and follow his blog.

The 5th Wave - Securing the Internet of Things

The 5th Wave

Securing the Internet Of Things

The 5th Wave

In 1980, futurist Alvin Toffler penned The Third Wave, in which he describes three types of societies depicted as waves. The first Wave – the Agricultural society - prevailed in much of the world post the hunter-gatherer cultures that existed some 12,000 years ago. The Agricultural Wave gave way to the Second Wave – the Industrial society – which began in Western Europe with the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800's. Toffler's prescient work predicted the coming of the Third Wave, what many now refer to as the Information Age. Sparked by the widespread adoption of computer technology, the Third Wave transitioned our world and the workplace like no wave before it, and at a far greater pace.

The Fourth Wave, what I refer to as the Connected Society, was spawned by the mid-1990's dawn of the Internet and rapid growth of the wireless world as conduits that would forever transform our planet, rendering it significantly smaller as people throughout the globe became instantly accessible with the click of a mouse (or a finger swipe or voice prompt).

Like the waves before it, the Fourth Wave spawned entire new industries and businesses that grew at a frantic pace, leaving their Third World predecessors in their wake. Third World companies like Blockbuster Video that had embraced computer technology to help them rapidly grow their businesses, were soon trampled by Fourth Wave players like Netflix.

Today, I believe that we are at the dawn of the Fifth Wave – the Internet of Things IoT - in which all facets of our life, including the physical assets with which we interact on a daily basis, will be connected and interacting with us and those around us. And the Fifth Wave goes well beyond things interacting with their human owners. It will see things interacting with things. Vehicles, even driverless vehicles, will communicate with each other and with the traffic grid, helping ensure rapid, safe movement of people and goods. The energy grid will be fully interactive, connecting to smart meters and optimizing energy use at levels never before envisioned.

Pundits like McKinsey project the IoT market will include tens of billions of connected devices by 2025 and could represent an $11+ Trillion market. Clearly, the race is on within the IoT space to see which companies emerge as the dominating force in their respective IoT markets.
A recent National Instruments report states, "As massive networks of systems come online, these systems need to communicate with each other and with the enterprise, often over vast distances." The report continues, "Both the systems and the communications need to be secure, or millions of dollars worth of assets are put at risk". Interoperability is a must and if we extrapolate on this, the interoperability of encrypted data and the authentication of users and devices will be critically important.

As in any emerging market there are challenges, and a global survey of IoT developers cited privacy and security as the top two obstacles to monetizing IoT applications. A recent story on connected vehicles stated that "one challenge may be issuing and revoking certificates at such a scale" Another article raised the issue of key management. Most IT professionals rate the pain of managing encryption keys as severe.
These articles beg the questions, "how can we expect to manage tens of billions of digital certificates and standard keys for the IoT market?"
The answer is obvious: we can't.

Current security methodology such as PKI was not designed for IoT, and beyond that, experts such as Professor Buchanan at Napier University in Scotland are questioning the very security worthiness of PKI in general. As Buchanan states, "I think the public key infrastructure we have created for the internet is deeply flawed, especially in the cryptographic methods used, many of which are past their useful life."
Buchanan's perspective begs the question. Why are automobile manufacturers even considering using PKI to secure their connected cars?
IoT needs an innovative, modern approach to security - one that is interoperable, that authenticates and that encrypts end-to-end. IoT solutions also need to control access to the data collected to ensure end user privacy, something that shouldn't be just a goal but a mandatory requirement for any IoT application.

I believe the answer to the IoT security and personal privacy challenges can be found by understanding the latest developments with Identity Based Encryption or IBE.

The History of 'Identity Based Encryption' IBE
  • In 1984 Adi Shamir invented 'Identity Based Encryption' IBE 1.0
  • In 2001 IBE 2.0 was patented based on US DOD funded research, at Stanford University, and it was commercialized by Voltage (now HP). See -                                                                                   Also see -
  • In 2014 IBE 3.0 was patented by Connect in Private (CIP), bringing 15 improvements to IBE 2.0 – most importantly, securing it end-to-end and adding authentication at the application layer. CIP branded IBE 3.0 as 'Certificate-Less Authenticated Encryption' or CLAE. 
In an IoT world that demands interoperability and collaboration, CLAE delivers as it is social by design. Think many-to-many, instead of one-to-one. The CLAE schema allows one device to encrypt, authenticate and share secrets with any other CLAE-protected device and it provides the measures to transfer trust across multiple domains (imagine a connected car from France travelling to Italy and interacting with the traffic grid with different master encryption keys). And it does so with elegant simplicity, eliminating the complexity that so often dooms security solutions.
  • CLAE eliminates the need for public-key certificates, removing the requirement for secure local storage, making it the ultimate solution for mobile and myriad other applications.
  • CLAE authenticates.
  • CLAE delivers end-to-end security, eliminating the need for TLS/SSL.
  • CLAE requires no certificate authority, no storing of certificates.
  • CLAE greatly simplifies key management and dramatically reduces IT workload. 
Think of CLAE as a high-powered ingredient that can be easily embedded into any existing connected offerings, turning vulnerable connections into ones that cannot be penetrated by outside parties.

The Fifth Wave – the Internet of Things - is coming and it undoubtedly will have a major impact on life as we know it today. And by leading with ironclad IBE 3.0 security in the provision of all IoT applications, vendors can ensure that the impacts from the Fifth Wave will be nothing but positive.

7 Technologies to Track People

7 Technologies to Track People
Ronny Max

7 Technologies to Track People

People Tracking Technologies capture customer and employee activities inside the store, allowing retailers to better understand their traffic patterns, empower in-store marketing, schedule to demand, manage queues, and measure sales conversion.

People Counting versus People Tracking

Behavior Analytics, Location Analytics, In-Store Analytics or whatever from of data and analysis attributed to activities in the physical store, depends on a technology to detect and track people. The primary people counting and tracking technologies are Monocular (Single Lens) and 3D Stereo Video, Thermal Imaging, Infrared Beams, Wi-Fi Tracking, BLE beacons, and the nascent Spatial Learning for your smartphone.
Each technology has its own set of challenges and benefits. For example, Wi-Fi, BLE, NFC, and RFID are based on radio wave technologies, and are distinct by range and the accuracy of the capture process.
The differences are not only in technology. The most pronounced benefit for BLE Beacons is the ability to send "push" notifications to customers. Wi-Fi antennas can track the customer path across great distances. Magnetic Resonance are calibrated with mobile applications. 3D Stereo Video solutions also manage the more complex frontline queues and predictive scheduling.
The difference between the solutions also includes the relationship between the capture technology and data integration requirements. For example, the premise of Beacons is to allow the retailer to directly contact the customer, in real-time. This requires complicated data integration between the beacon antennas in the store, the point of sales system, the customer relationship management platform, and the retailer's loyalty application.
Moreover, each people tracking solution has its own unique concepts of accuracy and data quality. 
Before we delve into the technologies, some definitions:

People Counting: The term is attributed to door-counters (traffic counters), which traditionally include infrared beams, thermal counters, and video sensors.The data output is simple and consist of how many people enter and exit the store, which is used to calculate Sale Conversion.

Queue Management: Since queue behaviors include both standing and moving, this is a complex form of people counting. The sensors provide data on the number of people waiting in line, and the average wait time. The robust frontline solutions predict how many cashiers should be active in order to prevent the formation of queues.

People Tracking: While people counting measures the number of customers in a specific area, people tracking is about the path inside the store. People Tracking refers to data output from wireless technologies, specifically Wi-Fi, which capture the Customers' Journey -- by tracking their mobile phone signals.
Since the nature of the market and the Who's Who in vendors change as fast as these words are written, we will highlight the characteristics of some technologies.

Monocular Video Analytics (Single Lens Sensors)

Video Analytics is a general term for sensors and solutions that capture an image and analyze its content. The range of Video Analytics solutions is far and wide in accuracy and utility. Here, we'll focus on a simple distinction between Monocular Single Lens and 3D Stereo sensors. 
Monocular devices capture images through a single lens camera. The image can be processed within the sensor itself, sent to an in-store server for analysis, or processed at a central server. Due to costs and bandwidth requirements, most counters are At-the-Edge (computer and camera) devices and send only metric data to the central server.
In door-counting, monocular devices achieve 90% accuracy in 90% of the stores. The core challenge of monocular devices is their treatment of depth. The presence of shadows and changing ambient conditions during the day impairs the ability of the technology to compare the real-time image to a "baseline" picture. Some vendors compare and "fix" the data to a trend, which happens during the upload to the central server.
Since single lens counters can be accurate for most door-counting situations and due to the variety of vendors, the sensors reached the status of a commodity.

3D Stereo Video Sensors

The principle behind 3D Stereo Vision is the assumption that accuracy starts with capturing the most high-resolution camera and creating a three-dimensional view of the tracked object.
The four data points for each image—height, mass, speed and direction—significantly enhances the accuracy of the count. Since sunlight and shadows do not have depth, stereo vision devices can filter out these objects from the counts. This architecture also allows for individual tracking of the object, as well as the person or shopping cart, for an extended period of time. The ability to define the exact location of an individual person opens the door to continuous tracking along multiple cameras and during abnormal behaviors.
Nomi (formerly Brickstream) defines the advantages of 3D Stereo Video as the ability to detect people versus objects; the ability to achieve accuracy in high volume traffic; the tolerance for variations in the environment (light, heat, shadow); the ability to detect employees and adults versus children; the ability to detect behaviors of interest; and the ability to detect the direction of travel.
The key challenge for stereo vision is cost, since the counting solution requires special devices and cannot use standard cameras. However, the advantages of accuracy for complex behaviors make 3D Stereo the preferred choice for queue management and other solutions. 

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging works by detecting emissions from moving targets, by locking on to the targets, and then tracking them within the sensor's field of view. Thermal imaging ignores the background features and focuses only on the moving object. As a result, thermal technology is not sensitive to light and allows the sensors to function well in challenging conditions such as the fluctuations from darkness to bright light. Thermal also ignores the impact of shadows on the image.
While accuracy suffers from the "blending" of a person's heat signature into their surroundings, if the person stands too long in the same place, thermal sensors achieve 95% plus accuracy rates in non-fluctuating ambient environments.
Thermal imaging based detectors are relatively easy to install, and unless used for the sophisticated solutions such as queue management, they are easy to calibrate. As low energy appliances, with no privacy issues since no image is taken, thermal sensors are versatile and wide spread.
Irisys, the everlasting leader in thermal sensors, claims over 300,000 sensors installed worldwide

Infrared Beams

Infrared beams are mounted either sideways on the gate door or top-down from the ceiling. These low-cost devices are simple to install and setup. The device sends a direct infrared beam, and counts the person moving across the doorway once the beam is broken.
The advantage of beam counters is their cost and simplicity. Unfortunately, beam counters suffer from accuracy challenges. First, the sensors cannot recognize the direction of motion, and count both the people entering and the people leaving the store in a single bucket. This requires dividing the counts in half in order to estimate the number of people entering the store.
Second, in wide entrances or in high-traffic entrances, the system tends to under count since it cannot differentiate between groups of people. If the beam is broken the system counts one, whether it is one person, or two or more people passing through the threshold. When customers loiter around the entrances or when shopping carts are within the beams range, the system cannot recognize the different behaviors and over counts. Since the system can easily under-count and over-count, the inconsistencies may render the accuracy rate irrelevant.
Infrared Beams were the cheap choice for door-counting, but the title is now being passed to Wi-Fi Tracking.

Notes on Installation: In addition to the cost of sensors and software applications, the process of installation can significantly increase the total price of the solution. The installation of hardware consumes labor payroll, and if the solution includes real-time or predictive components, then the calibration requires even more time.
Travel costs also play a part if the installation is done in locations far from urban markets, such as North Bay in Canada or the frontiers in China. This is where the vendor's ability to calibrate the sensor remotely becomes more than a marketing slogan.
Overtime pay is also a consideration since some retailers only allow installation outside the store's activity hours, typically after closing. The costs increase if mounting the sensors requires special equipment, for example a lift for ceilings higher than 16 feet, or if the cable run from the sensor to the IT room is longer than 100 yards. There are more challenges if the ceiling is hard or the store has designer-oriented architecture. Anyone who has tackled an installation in a store on Rodeo Drive tends to view Beverly Hills California as the road to perdition.
The final piece in calculating cost is on-going maintenance. This includes repairs, replacements, updates and some upgrades that can easily reach 18 percent of the solution, per year.
The Total Cost of Ownership for a sensor-based people counting solutions has shifted attention to mobile tracking; in other words, using the smartphone to track the individual customer's journey.

Wi-Fi Location Analytics

Wi-Fi is an emerging people tracking technology, which is ideal in unstructured movements and in large venues such as airports and stadiums. The technology's dependency on active Wi-Fi features in the customer's device, limits the data output to a sample out of the total population.
Wi-Fi is the technology standard for exchanging data over a Wireless Local Area Network. The Wi-Fi sensors monitor radio waves from the shoppers' smart phones and tablets, and can cover a range of up to 100,000 square feet. Since the emissions of each device (such as a smart phone) are unique, the system can continuously tracks the customer from entry to exit, and even beyond the store.
Wi-Fi Location Analytics suffers from the challenges of GeoLocation Accuracy because the Cellular Tower Triangulation can be wide as half-mile area. Most vendors who offer Wi-Fi Tracking rely on in-store antennas that identify the location of the smartphone, and therefore the customer's path, inside the store.  
The low costs of setup and maintenance, as well as the benefits of detailed data on the behaviors make Wi-Fi a very attractive value proposition. The success of this technology, however, also depends on the activation of the Wi-Fi feature in the shopper's smart phone and addressing privacy concerns.
Wi-Fi (and BLE) Tracking is now build-in with the Apple and Android devices. It means customers do not need to download an application or change the default setup, only to opt-in to "anonymous tracking".

Google's Store Visits is probably the most visible application for Wi-Fi Geo-Location Tracking.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons

The promise of "Personalize Marketing" inside the store, in Real-Time, comes with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This is a wireless technology standard that deploys short wave radio transmissions to create Local Area Networks. In essence, beacon solutions allow retailers to directly communicate with their customers.
While Wi-Fi Tracking is about capturing Location coordinates, People Tracking is a side effect in a Beacon Solutions.  Since customers opt-in, the core advantage of beacon technology is the ability to provide data on the staying time in the store, the walking path inside the store, visitor frequency, and the interaction with products for individual customers.
BLE Beacon Solutions are ideal for merchandising and marketing activities in close proximity. Their primary objectives are to empower Customer Loyalty, promote Impulse Buying, and increase the Average Basket.

3D Spatial Learning (in Your Phone)

Google's Project Tango is an attempt to bring the store to life through your Android smartphone.
Project Tango strives to give mobile devices a human-like understanding of space and motion through advanced sensor fusion and computer vision, enabling new and enhanced types of user experiences – including 3D scanning, indoor navigation and immersive gaming. (ARS Technica)
The new smartphones are packed with motion sensors and machine learning algorithms, which allows the device to build a 3D model of the area within sight. The objective is to allow the device to "learn" how objects are oriented and located. Someday soon, your smartphone will "know" you are in the supermarket shopping for nappies and beer.
Google is not alone. Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Baidu and other Customer-Direct companies are moving fast to learn more from images and video. If we apply Moore's Law to mobile, the development of the smartphone is exponential, and so are the applications for Spatial Learning.

Notes on Analytics: The important factor to remember about people tracking data from mobile and wireless technologies is that the analytics are based on statistical calculations.For example, Sales Conversation calculated from Wi-Fi data (sample) is not the same as derived from video analytics (all behaviors).

This is the distinction between Location Analytics (tracking the individual customer inside the store) and In-Store Analytics (focusing on all behaviors in the store).

ShopperTrak is an example for a full-service Location Analytics company for retailers, while RetailNext is more attuned to In-Store Analytics. Both companies, as well as regional companies such as Vizualized from Hong Kong and Headcount from Canada, offer a range of technologies, analytics, and professional services.
The trend in people tracking technologies is the divergence between the focus on personalized marketing to the consumer and empowering the physical store. For retailers, this is the key to the success or failure of a people tracking project.

Thank you for reading my post. I write about people tracking technologies and the business benefits from behavior analytics. If you would like to read my posts, please click "Follow". Connect with Ronny Max at