FindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently interviewed Raffie Beroukhim, Senior Vice President, Advanced Recognition Systems Division, NEC Corporation of America. The conversation begins with an update on the company after a year of tremendous growth, and the market highlights in law enforcement, federal government and critical infrastructure that contributed to NECAM’s success. Beroukhim explains how Apple’s introduction of Face ID on the iPhone X has changed the facial recognition space for the better, going on to emphasize the importance of education and outreach in emerging technological spaces like biometrics. Finally, the discussion concludes on the topic of digital transformation and how NECAM is helping fulfill this paradigm shift through the deployment of facial recognition in hospitality, airports, retail, banking and other markets.
Read our full interview with Raffie Beroukhim, Senior Vice President, Advanced Recognition Systems Division at NEC Corporation of America
Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics: Can you tell us if this has been a good year in your area at NEC?
Raffie Beroukhim, Senior Vice President, Advanced Recognition Systems Division at NEC Corporation of America: Peter, I want to first of all thank you for this opportunity to talk to you and your audience as we appreciate the opportunity. It has been a tremendous year for NEC Advanced Recognition Systems. We have just concluded our five-year plan and I am pleased to report that, including the just completed year, the Division has experienced an all organic, a 23.6 percent CAGR! It is a significant accomplishment for the organization, and it is representative of the support from our clients and our community, and it represents our innovation and the technologies we have brought to bear. We are very pleased with last year, and we are extremely pleased with our performance in the last five years, and we are looking forward to the opportunities in the future as well.
FB: That is remarkable growth Raffie. What are some of the highlights that you are seeing that is contributing to this growth?
NEC: Two-fold, obviously we are continuing to gain key contracts in our law enforcement opportunities and in addition to our law enforcement we are seeing growth in our federal government and critical infrastructure spaces. We see the expansion of facial recognition in federal government with regards to the frictionless biometrics Exit process and some of the projects that we have within the Department of Homeland Security and CBP. The last few years that have been a tremendous success for the NECAM ARS Division. This success is now encroaching into opportunities in the critical infrastructure and smart venues including airports, airlines, theme parks, financial services, hospitality and retail.
So, while we remain steadfast to serving our public safety clients the proliferation of facial recognition has provided us with a tremendous opportunity.
FB: Raffie, did Apple’s move to facial recognition this past year help in that regard?
NEC: Absolutely. Some of the things that Apple has done — or the whole entire mobile phone industry has done – is two-fold. First of all it kind of monetized biometrics in a way that people understand it, they believe in it, they believe in the convenience it brings. It started obviously with fingerprint sensor on those devices and now, with facial recognition, it has opened up a whole new set of doors. The fact that people are now using it, believe in it, and see the benefits in it benefits all of us.
What we are also finding about facial recognition through Apple and some of the applications is that it is easy to use, it is contactless, it is convenient, it is affordable and all of these benefits are going to lead to further opportunities for facial recognition and providers of such technology, including NEC, in this market.
FB: You mentioned, and in our 15th Year in Review – I can’t believe we have been doing this for 15 years –Education came out as one of those areas that we as an industry really should try and concentrate on. Why do you think this is so important now?
NEC: Congratulations on the 15 years. I think with every new technology, and every new introduction of technology, there has to be a parallel path for education and outreach. There are those particularly that feel comfortable with it and there are those that may have concerns. I think it is the responsibility of the industry at multiple levels: at the user level, at the policy maker level, at the congressional level, all aligned with the advantages and the policies that need to be put in place to ensure viability, ensure adherence to policy and ensure that there is no abuse of the technology as this goes on. I think left without an education there is a vacuum that could be exploited by others with regards to the inconveniences, and the dangers, and obviously every technology has drawbacks and facial recognition is not without some either. But as I mentioned earlier the affordability, the convenience, the ability to transform a number of industries and technologies in my opinion far exceeds the drawbacks. So, education, outreach through multiple levels, through the industry, through individual clients, through the users is a key component to the success for biometrics, for facial recognition and for perhaps everything that we do.
FB: Well we couldn’t agree more with those thoughts: it is not in just one area but across the board that education is very critical. So thank you for your comments on that.
I’d like to ask you a little bit about digital transformation, can I get your thoughts about the impact of this? It sort of ties in with your comments earlier about mobility and the speed of change, as it must not only be affecting NEC but all of your customers. I do think digital transformation presents an opportunity, can you tell us a little bit about what NEC is doing in this area?
NEC: NEC has been preparing for the next wave of the use of facial recognition and that is in the fulfillment of the digital transformation of a number of industries. I think airport is a good example and how over time, with increased demand and growth, and coupled with the troubles of the existing infrastructure it has created a challenge from check in, to bag drop, to security, to boarding and everything in between. We face long lines, require a variety of forms, documents, boarding passes and more. I think what NEC can bring in the digital transformation is to use facial recognition as a single unified biometric key that will connect the physical world with the digital world and will provide a simple, frictionless, seamless and a more personalized experience. I think facial recognition will enhance the experience of the traveler, and will provide airlines and airports and retailers an opportunity to get to know the traveler better, and provide a better service.
That digital transformation has already been talked about in a number of industries including hospitality, retail, banking and other enterprises. So, regardless of the venue this digital transformation, and the fulfillment of a frictionless personalized service through a single unified biometric key, is what I believe NEC is poised to capitalize on and our technology, not only including facial recognition but our artificial intelligence, IoT and our system integration capabilities allows us to lead this charge. That is our mission as we speak today and we look forward to its implementation more rapidly in the market.
FB: Thank you so much, Raffie, for filling us in on what is happening at NEC. Congratulations on a fantastic year and I look forward to hearing more about NEC. It is always a pleasure to talk with someone with your wealth of experience in our industry.
NEC: Peter thank you so much for the opportunity. As always, it is my pleasure, and NEC’s as well, to get to talk to you and share our updates. We always follow your reporting. And congratulations again on your 15 years. Here is to another 15! Thank you again.