Internet of Things

Microsoft, NEC Bring Biometrics To Retail IoT

As consumers try on different Internet of Things-enabled products to see if they fit with their lifestyles, the manufacturing and retail worlds are moving right ahead with slightly more ambitious projects.

Count NEC Corporation of America as a member of the latter, as it announced on Thursday (April 21) that it would be showing off an IoT collaboration with Microsoft’s Azure platform at the Hannover Messe 2016 trade fair in Germany from April 25 to 29. NEC’s demonstration is split into two facets: a retail-facing solution that leverages biometric sensors to allow retailers to collect data on shoppers’ ages and genders, as well as the efficiency of store layouts, and a manufacturing platform that handles everything from identifying daily maintenance tasks on a factory floor to optimizing employee schedules with face-tracking technology.

Hiroyumi Inoue, vice president of NEC’s Global Platform Solution Center, touted the fact that both IoT solutions are as far-reaching as they are flexibly implementable.

“NEC is excited to be working with Microsoft on innovation solutions available to global customers through the broad reach of Microsoft Azure IoT technology,” Inoue said. “Our strength in biometric solutions provides powerful endpoints for IoT solutions for manufacturing and retail industries. And, as demonstrated at Hannover Messe, such solutions can easily incorporate Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM service for a more complete solution. While we are focused on manufacturing and retail solutions today, our offerings are applicable across many industries, including public safety, transportation and hospitality.”

The joint IoT venture between NEC and Microsoft continues a long collaboration between the two companies, which dates back to 1979 — a time when Bill Gates and Paul Allen were still coding their company’s way to future market dominance.

Now, however, it’s General Manager of Worldwide Manufacturing and Resources Çağlayan Arkan who’s helming Microsoft’s effort “to define the future of manufacturing in a digital world.”

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