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NEC Develops World's First Sensing Technology for Accurate and Instant Identification of 100 or More Items- Advancing inventory management and product demand forecasts when used in the distribution sector -

*** For immediate use December 5, 2012

Tokyo, December 5, 2012 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) announced today the development of the world's first sensing technology for simultaneously identifying a large number of products and rapidly identifying their type, position, quantity, and other information with high accuracy. The introduction of this technology to convenience stores, supermarkets and other distribution businesses will advance demand chain management (DCM) (*1), including strict inventory management and demand forecasts, and will enable detailed store operations tailored to specific regions and stores.

At present, store operations face challenges such as uncertainty when implementing merchandise sales measures and a lack of reliability in determining their effect, chiefly because they must be assessed based on sales results alone. With retail markets growing mainly in emerging countries, retailers' global expansion requires more sophisticated DCM.

NEC's new technology is a combination of (1) image recognition technology able to identify 100 or more items at a time and (2) sensing technology for detecting the existence or absence of merchandise in locations where it is hard to see. This paves the way for instant acquisition of information essential to merchandise management, such as type, position, and quantity of all products on the shelves. Detecting any change in whether or not a specific item is in its position helps users understand shoppers' behavior in picking items up or putting them back down and estimate the level of a user's interest in an item.

This technology enables retailors to identify customer needs that are hard to grasp from sales results alone, to implement strict inventory management and to assess merchandise sales measures. This in turn enables highly precise store management based on the region and the store, and has the potential to be introduced at overseas locations where staff and cultures vary.

Main features of this new technology include the following:

  1. An image recognition technology for identifying 100 or more items at a time
    NEC has developed a technology for performing high-speed and high-precision classification of a large number of characteristic points picked from an image on the basis of their positions, to identify which group of characteristic points refers to which product. This enables simultaneous identification of all products in an image without using barcodes or RFIC tags for product identification.

    Testing application of the technology for beverages in plastic bottles and cans has confirmed that the number of products simultaneously identifiable using the new technology is at least 30 times greater than with the conventional technology (*2) and that it is the world's first technology to simultaneously identify 100 or more items.

  2. A sensing technology for accurate detection of merchandise quantities at positions where it is hard to see
    NEC has developed a special sheet that emits weak radio waves for placement on store shelves. Taking advantage of the phenomenon in which the merchandise on the sheet disturbs the radio wave, the technology accurately identifies the number of items at a place where they are hard to see, such as near the far end of the shelf. NEC has thus created the world's first sensing system that captures information nearly every second, such as whether hundreds of items remain or have gone and whether or not they are being picked up or put back down by shoppers.

NEC will continue its research and development efforts in a bid to create a C&C cloud service based on this technology for distribution, manufacturing, logistics, maintenance and other businesses.



(*1) Demand Chain Management, or DCM, is a new management concept for creating a retail-driven total value chain adapted to market changes by implementing stock-keeping unit management at retail stores and by following a cycle of making and verifying hypotheses on customers' purchases to optimize the merchandise assortment and ordering for merchandise.

(*2) Press release on March 6, 2012
NEC Develops High-Precision, Real-Time Image Recognition Technology with Mobile Terminal.

About NEC Corporation
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NEC Press Contacts (Japan)

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NEC Corporation

Joseph Jasper
NEC Corporation