IoT Platform technology to thwart supermarket self scan thefts

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Underlying technologies that work in the background to make our lives better/safer/more productive are rarely interesting to anyone other than the technology specialists who develop and work with them. So, finding a story that shows their value for both business leaders and end-users is a gem to be treasured.

Last week I had a fascinating (for me as a technology analyst) briefing from UK based IoT platform developer, IOTech. We had a great conversation about the challenges businesses face with deploying and managing a very diverse set of new Internet of Things (IoT) devices alongside, and integrated with, older Operational Technology (OT) in many, very different, Edge environments…and then getting valuable business insights out of them.

IOTech certainly tick all the right boxes. It is a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s (LF) open source EdgeX Foundry project. Along with Intel, it is the major contributor of code for the project. Its Edge Xrt and Edge Xpert products are the core of the EdgeX Foundry solution and the basis of its own commercially supported version. Put simply, this software platform makes it easier and faster to connect and manage IoT and OT devices that don’t normally play well together. This leaves developers free to develop applications without the constraints, in time and cost, of having to make sure the application works with all the required devices.

So far, so boring. Where is the interesting gem of a story? A few weeks ago, cameras appeared above the self-scan checkouts in my local supermarket. Staff told me that they were installed to help counter the huge rise in fraud and outright theft. Then, the Sunday Times ran an article on the myriad ways shoppers try and cheat the system and how technology is fighting back. Wanting to know more, I looked on the EdgeX Foundry site and found this fascinating retail loss prevention case study, that features IOTech strongly and shows how it helps resolve the challenge of integrating a number of very different devices to support new applications that deliver real-world benefits. It is well worth a read.

Now, I don’t know if my supermarket is using a solution based on the IOTech products, but you can be pretty sure that if, in future, you try calling an 8oz filet steak a banana at the self-service checkout, store security staff will be wanting a quiet word.