Blog: Trends, Tech, & Team

The Prism Platform + Microsoft Cognitive Services

When we launched the Prism Vision mobile application this fall, our goal was to empower businesses across all industries with the ability to leverage video for smarter decision making. Central to this mission has been the development of an open platform that can harness the most sophisticated A.I. and machine learning technology, and deliver it to a vast ecosystem of cameras and devices — making powerful, cutting edge capabilities accessible to a large number of users.

Today, we’re excited to share details around our recent collaboration with Microsoft.  We’ve integrated their Computer Vision API, part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, which brings advanced tagging and search capabilities to Prism Vision.

Through our platform, we’ve created a direct connection between the video that’s collected from Prism-enabled cameras, and the Microsoft API, eliminating the task of manually searching through hours of video footage in order to find important visual information.

Take a look at this new video featuring an interview with our CEO, Steve Russell, and more details about the search capabilities within Vision that are powered by Microsoft’s API. To learn more about Vision, visit https://prism.com/vision or find us in the iOS app store.

Coming Soon: Radio Frequency Technology in the Prism Platform

We’re excited to announce our upcoming addition to the Prism ecosystem: radio frequency (RF) analytic sensors. Our new partnership with Cognitive Systems Corp. will allow our retail customers to combine Prism’s powerful visual analytics with RF source-detection, adding a deeper level of insight to customer behavior. Through this new integration, customers will be able to augment their visual analytics by providing counting, dwell, traffic, Heatmap and Pathmap data with randomized identifiers to classify unique visitors–without infringing on privacy.

A Unique Collaboration

Prism is always seeking innovative tools to empower our enterprise customers. Our integration with Cognitive Systems offers a unique opportunity for retailers to collect customer shopping data on a more granular level. By leveraging Cognitive Systems’ hardware within the Prism platform, customers will have the combined insight of Prism’s powerful visual analytics with real-time RF pattern recognition. This provides a data-driven window into shoppers’ movement patterns and factors that shape their buying behavior.

Balancing Data and Privacy

We understand the challenge that businesses face when balancing data collection and maintaining customer privacy. Both Cognitive Systems and Prism’s technology are built with industry-leading privacy safeguards, empowering users with detailed insight without compromising shopper identity. Prism’s analytics generate anonymized summaries and visualizations of store activity while Cognitive Systems’ offers advanced RF privacy protection locally, collecting additional shopper data without linking to personal information.

Cognitive Systems will be the first RF sensor supported by the Prism platform as we continue to expand our ecosystem of Prism-connected cameras and devices. We have a lot in store for the coming year, so keep in touch as we continue to empower businesses with data and transform how video is used around the world.

Re-Defining Enterprise Video

Five years ago, Prism was founded with a simple yet revolutionary mission: transform enterprise video into data that can make businesses smarter and more profitable. We started by carving a path to connect networks of cameras to an intelligent cloud that delivers insights about business performance. Today, we’re leveraging new capabilities built from A.I, computer vision and machine learning to fully tap the hidden value within video.

We’ve been deployed by hundreds of retailers in 80 countries around the world, and have tracked nearly 5 billion customer interactions. We’re also just getting started.

Building a truly open platform has been integral to getting to where we are today. By partnering with 12 of the world’s leading camera manufacturers (a list that continues to grow), we’ve made it possible for our customers to turn their cameras into powerful business tools. Partners join Prism Connect to help evolve their hardware from security devices into powerful sensors for business operations, marketing and merchandising. With more partnerships in the queue, we’re bringing Prism to a vast ecosystem of devices, including emerging technologies like 3D, thermal and other sensors that challenge the traditional definition of a camera.

The last five years can, in part, be measured by the tremendous effort that has gone into proving our platform within retail. We’ve paid attention as different users from CEOs to store managers gravitated to specific features within the platform. These two types of users — video and data — speak to the value that Prism brings throughout an organization, and inspired our latest self-service mobile applications Vision and Insight.

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In short, we’ve re-defined video. Through breakthroughs in video condensation technology, we’ve transformed video data from a dense and clunky medium into a low-bandwidth stream of information that can be efficiently dissected and analyzed. When combined with Object Stream, we’ve created an unprecedented foundation to apply neural net technology to video for smarter search and analysis.

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We’ve worked hard to transform the role of video for businesses, but have only scratched the surface of what’s possible. With continued innovation in machine learning and A.I., Prism is uniquely positioned to unleash the value that lives within video, and make it accessible for businesses everywhere. Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months as we share exciting updates about our platform, partners and what this will mean for your business.

Prism’s 5th Anniversary Field Day

We recently celebrated our fifth anniversary, marking just one of many milestones since our founding in 2011. Earlier this month, we commemorated Prism’s growth and success with a company-wide field day in Golden Gate Park. In our matching team-Prism jerseys, everyone came together for games of Bubble Soccer, Spikeball, volleyball, and other fun outdoor activities, in addition to enjoying some delicious food! We are proud of our accomplishments and the team that has made them possible. We can’t wait to see what the next five years have in store for Prism.

Check out the complete album on Facebook to see more pictures from our fifth anniversary celebration!

Prism All-Stars pose for a group picture.

Marcus shows off his cornhole tossing talents to Brian and Andrew.

Ben and Huu take on Bob and Joe in an intense game of Spikeball.

Intern Andrew slams the winning shot for “Team Ann-drew.”

Vivian and Stephanie bump into each other in the sumo wrestling suits.

Henry accepts a sumo wrestling challenge.

Aaron showcases his excellent volleyball form.

We fueled up for all of these activities with yummy catered food.

The Blue Team organizes in the first match of Bubble Soccer.

The Red Team prepares to sprint for the ball.

The two teams clash…

And then crash!

Spectators watch the hilarious Bubble Soccer match.

Behind the Lens: Elizabeth Wu, Design Intern

Prism is always looking to attract and nurture top talent locally and globally! Summer is a great time to find the next generation of new, up-and-coming talent and boy did we score big! Elizabeth Wu joined Prism this summer as our Design Intern and hit the ground running. We caught up with Liz (by which she likes to be referred) to get to know a little more about the person behind the talent.

Liz Wu

Favorite Food

For a really long time, pho used to be my favorite food but then there’s also pozole. I don’t know!!

Favorite Quote?

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

What’s your role at Prism?

I’m the Design Intern here!

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on getting all of our branding to be consistent across different platforms.

What drew you to Prism?

The idea of being able to create more out of a space that has finite dimensions continues to blow my mind.

What aspects of your job at Prism do you like best?

I love having dogs around me but most of all I love how well everyone works together.

What do you like to do outside of work?

When I’m not at work, I can usually be found eating hot pot or cooking!

What’s your background outside of Prism?

My background outside of Prism is one of eating lots of guacamole and missing Mexico.

Baby Boomer vs. Millennial Shoppers: Why Retailers Must Appeal To Both

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As the generation gap between shoppers widen, so do their shopping habits. It’s important for retailers to understand their preferences in order to create an all-in-one shopping experience that appeals to different age groups. Baby boomers and millennials comprise the largest shopping demographics and remain the focus for most retailers today.

Gen X, (born between 1965 and 1981 ) comprises a smaller population than the boomers and millennials and often demonstrate similar shopping behaviors to both their older and younger generations. Their buying potential is not to be overlooked and a successful retailer should aim to capture the attention of all shoppers.

Baby Boomers (born between 1943 and 1964)

Most retailers attribute up to 50% of their sales to baby boomers. While their population is being gradually outpaced by the growing number of millennials, baby boomers still have stronger purchasing power and account for nearly five times more retail spending. While the love for coupons and promotions span both generations, baby boomers are less motivated by price. They place higher value in the overall shopping experience including great in-store customer service. Baby boomers are very brand-loyal and are often willing to pay a higher price for a brand they trust and have personally deemed “high-quality”. They’re also more likely to make a purchase from brands that offer loyalty rewards. Contrary to popular belief, baby boomers are relatively tech-savvy and have no problem browsing, researching and making purchases online. However, when it comes to mobile, baby boomers are less likely than millennials to use a smartphone or tablet when making a purchase.

Millennials (born between 1981 and 2000)

Digitally connected and highly informed millennials use technology to their full advantage. They’re more price-conscious than older generations and will often compare multiple options (often on a mobile device while in-store) before making a purchase decision. They’re less motivated by traditional advertising and strongly influenced by product reviews, word-of-mouth, blogs and social media. Although they are highly discerning shoppers, millennials will happily endorse a brand that provides them with a great experience or sells a product that they love. Millennials are more likely to advocate for their favorite brand on Facebook, Pinterest, or their personal blog.

Millennials have recently surpassed baby boomers in numbers and although their level of disposable income is currently lower, retailers must not ignore the value in nurturing this generation with exceptional brand awareness. They will become retailers’ core clientele in the next few decades, and creating a sense of brand loyalty in this group will be valuable as they develop more purchasing power. Experts also caution retailers to not abandon the boomers either as their their ability to be a significant revenue driver is expected to remain strong for the next 20 years. Retailers that are able to create a unified brand experience that attracts and retains both generations will continue to see success.

How Retailers Can Use Technology to Keep From Falling Behind

retail technology

In response to the ever-changing landscape of the retail industry, many large retailers are being forced to take drastic business measures. Companies like Macy’s, Walmart, Office Depot, Sears, and Barnes and Noble have already announced plans to greatly reduce their number of stores. Sports Authority, once the largest sporting goods retailer in the country, recently announced the closing of all its remaining stores this year. These closings don’t necessarily signal the end of brick-and-mortar retail, but serve as a warning to physical retailers who need to adopt instrumental practices in order to stay relevant. Unfortunately, for companies like Sports Authority the chance to evolve their in-store business may have come too late.

In a recent article, experts weighed in on what may have lead to Sports Authority’s downfall. Some speculate the company’s inability to keep up with their competition by providing an optimal in-store customer experience lead to their demise. They also made the point that certain competing retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods who put effort into making their stores a shopping “experience” have fared better and managed to keep up with the changing tide.

Leveraging available technology is one way retailers can stay ahead of the curve as emphasis on the shopping experience becomes crucial for survival. Here are five advantages of having access to real-time visual access and analytic data in-store.

Identify and Address Layout Issues Promptly

A product display that drives strong revenue may receive a lot of attention one week and much less the following. This sudden pattern change may be due to the placement of new merchandise, which could redirect shopper attention. By relocating these items, merchandisers have the ability to refocus shoppers back on to high value items. Real-time insight into these changing patterns and their impact on store performance allows retail professionals to immediately address potential sales “road blocks.”

Up-to-the-minute Performance Monitoring

Retailers can access daily or weekly performance metrics of multiple stores at once, and act quickly to implement any necessary adjustments. For a store looking to increase its overall conversion rate, a real-time glance at their stores’ traffic and customer flow can provide vital insight. High volume traffic yielding low conversion may seem counterintuitive until visual context reveals that excessively crowded stores may be putting shoppers off due to long check-out times or poor customer service.

Product Placement and Store Layout Testing

Measuring the efficacy of a store’s signage, product displays, lighting, merchandise placement and promotions is essential to optimizing a store. What may seem like a simple change in placement could have a significant impact on store profitability.

Timely Staffing Optimization

Historically, retailers would hire and schedule associates’ shifts based on simple intuition and employee availability. Having fixed headcount in store during all business hours can generally cover sales needs; however, if at any time a store experiences a spike in traffic, inadequate staffing could result in loss in conversion. Real-time views into a store’s daily and weekly traffic flow helps retailers schedule their staff according to a specific store’s traffic patterns, which reduces labor costs while optimizing sales opportunities.

Live, Low-cost Auditing

Retailers have the ability to look into one store or multiple stores from anywhere in the world. By making sure that shelves are stocked, customers are being helped, and the store is always presentable, stores can forgo the expense of sending a district manager on-site.

In today’s retail market, unlimited options and the ability to quickly compare costs produces a highly informed consumer. Physical retailers need to stay ahead of their competition, and tools like Prism, can provide the insights and data to do so.

Watch: Prism and Store of the Future Video Case Study

We’re proud to show off our latest video case study, which highlights our partnership with the Store of the Future, a retail innovation lab based in the Netherlands. The Store of the Future selected Prism as their sole analytics provider — out of 70+ technology companies that have come together to bring all of the most cutting-edge retail solutions into a single brick-and-mortar experience.

Check out our latest announcement to learn more about our partnership with the Store of the Future!

The Brick and Mortar Experience: What Shoppers Value Most

It’s no secret that online shopping has exploded in the past few years. Shoppers have almost everything in the world available for purchase right at their fingertips. While some retailers scramble to increase their online offerings, other large retail companies who once operated solely on the web are taking their products to the streets. Amazon recently announced its plan to open nearly 400 new stores after trying out their first physical location in Seattle last year. It’s an interesting paradigm, highlighting the fact that brick-and-mortar shopping is still relevant and for many people, the preferred method of shopping. So what do customers value in the retail experience that can’t be fulfilled online?

Multi-sensory Interaction

Inside a store, retailers have the opportunity to share the full brand experience with their customers using every one of the human senses. An optimal layout will not only create a seamless shopping experience but a full immersion into a brand’s culture. From the moment a shopper walks into a store, they’re greeted with the sight (lighting, colors, layout), smell (scent of the store), and sound (music, chatter) associated with the brand. Shoppers can then examine and experience a product first-hand such as listening to the sound quality of a new speaker, trying on new shoes or sitting on prospective sofa. When these factors are collectively on point, retailers have the opportunity to generate not just a single sale but more importantly, loyal return customers.

Personal Attention

One irreplaceable aspect of shopping is face-to-face interaction between customers and sales associates. Shoppers value the expertise and tailored recommendations that a knowledgeable associate can provide especially when purchasing big ticket items such as a computer, jewelry or home appliances. In fact, a recent poll showed 90% of shoppers felt more likely to make a purchase after receiving help from an associate. While e-commerce sites have the ability to make general product recommendations based on customer browsing history and search behavior, physical interaction presents the opportunity for more relevant suggestions based on conversation and real-time feedback.

Instant Gratification

Many people consider spending time at the mall a fun activity with the possible reward of taking home a same-day purchase. For most people, the satisfaction received from an immediate purchase will always trump the delay that comes with delivery, even if it’s same day.

Playing up these points is advantageous for brick and mortar retailers. Lucky for them, innovation and emerging technology platforms like Prism are empowering retailers to gain insights and optimize their customer experience using data. The ability to track customers’ path to purchase and analytics tools once reserved for online retailers are now available for real-world businesses. As breakthrough technology becomes mainstream practice, brick and mortar retailers now have the opportunity to level the playing field and keep their business booming.

#RIC16 In a Nutshell

RIC

There’s no better time than spring in NYC, so I didn’t have to be convinced to head east for Retail Touchpoint’s Retail Innovation Conference. It was a productive and inspiring week full of brand success stories, industry insights and networking opportunities. Here are of some of the week’s biggest takeaways:

Omnichannel is more than just a buzzword.

When retailers started using the word “omnichannel” a couple years ago, it felt as though it wasn’t fully defined yet. Now in 2016, it’s clear that the industry has a much stronger understanding of what an omnichannel strategy means. One presenter at RIC suggested that only 15% of retailers are fully equipped with the technology needed to fully implement a seamless, end-to-end experience — while a much larger percentage of retailers are working toward executing omnichannel strategies.

Retailer Alton Lane surprised attendees with their own take on omnichannel – using a converted Airstream trailer to take retail stores directly to customers’ front yards!

Stores are the new… Stores

For years, we have been hearing cries about the death of brick-and-mortar retail. At Prism, we have always known this was false, and that optimizing and improving the physical space is critical. Now there is hard data to support the continued importance of brick-and-mortar retail stores. While e-commerce is certainly growing at a fast rate, Maureen Mullen of the L2 Digital Think Tank provided several stories about pure ecommerce brands such as Warby Parker and Bonobos. These retailers saw significant growth in revenue after they opened physical stores. Mullen also shared examples of traditional physical retailers, such as American Eagle, who experienced financial recovery after deploying omnichannel solutions like “order online, pickup in store”. Throughout the entire conference, the message was clear: Retail stores are both a crucial piece of a brand’s identity, while also becoming a new type of “distribution” center. Physical stores are necessary tools in a retailer’s path to profitability.

Act Small

One of my favorite parts of the conference was listening to start-up retail brands such as Shoes of Prey, Mizzen and Main and AdoreMe share their success stories. Across all these brands, there was one common theme – they all felt they were able to find success quickly because they didn’t have to hold themselves to the same process as large and experienced retailers. Instead, being forced to find innovative ways to market on a budget through brand advocates, cut on production costs by repurposing existing equipment, and going against other long-held industry principles allowed them to grow organically while remaining nimble. Of course, not all brands will be able to find success this exact way, but I think the key takeaway is to not be afraid to do things a little bit differently.

After the close of the show, Prism headed over to our long-time partner, STORY, where we hosted a cocktail reception for the conference’s guests. The space’s dynamic and innovative design provided the perfect backdrop for showcasing Prism’s capabilities.

And to nobody’s surprise, the bar area proved to be the hottest spot of the store that evening.

Cheers to another thought-provoking Retail Innovation Conference! Can’t wait for next year.

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