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Intellias Case Study: ANPR-based Automated Payment Solution as a Compelling Differentiator for Brands

The more disruption technology undergoes, the more tech-savvy customers get. Intellias has been delivering technologically advanced solutions for 18 years, and throughout this time we’ve been watching how continuous innovations in consumer electronics, smartphones, payment systems, and mobility concepts raise the expectations of the end user. In response to increasing digitalization in our daily lives, customers demand easy and flawless interactions with service providers. Optimizing the user experience has never been this crucial in any industry.

With this in mind, global retailers, drive-through restaurants, gas stations, and many other service providers are moving to automate the customer experience to the greatest possible extent. An automated payment system backed by artificial intelligence (AI) can address a lot of pain points for drivers, such as:

  • slow lines at the drive-through
  • lost or misplaced parking tickets
  • reaching for the wallet while at the wheel
  • the need to open the car window to pay via NFC or, what’s worse, to pass cash/coins that might even be dropped
  • hardly readable QR codes

The Intellias team has lots of expertise developing payment solutions for the retail, automotive industries, and gambling services.

Solution

Our R&D project is based on the idea of providing drivers with a unique user
experience: zero-click payments for products and services based on a combination
of computer vision and geofenced car location tracking.

A vehicle is identified the moment it pulls up to the gas station, parking space,
carwash, or any other service center. The next step is trajectory tracking to define
the precise gas pump, parking space, or washing station used. Then the license
plate is recognized and a payment is made automatically.

The payment system itself is based on a combination of authorization and
authentication methods including Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).
ANPR is widely used as an authentication method for free-flow toll roads around
the world, so it can be used as the main authentication method even in highly
sensitive scenarios such as for payments.

The key technology behind this solution is a combination of image recognition with
a mobile app on a user’s smartphone for authorization and a cloud platform that
supports image recognition in general and, in particular, Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This combination eliminates the need for installing hardware other than IP cameras at service points. Installed cameras detect number plates with NVR, HD RAID, and OpenALPR and stream information to a computer vision service.

Once the object detection analysis outputs a positive result, it triggers optical
character recognition for the license plate detection workflow:

  • Convert the image to grayscale
  • Optimize the image quality with smoothing filters
  • Extract all contours in the image using OpenCV functionality
  • Check the similarity of all contours with predefined symbols using a k-
    nearest neighbors (KNN) algorithm
  • Use heuristics to reconstruct license plate numbers (e.g. the standard format
    for a British number plate introduced in 2001 is 2 letters – 2 digits – 3
    letters)

A significant benefit of this solution is that it can run even on basic hardware
because the KNN algorithm substitutes a neural network for number plate
recognition. We trained the algorithm on a data set of Ukrainian license plates and
managed to achieve 94.3% recognition accuracy even at long distances, in poor
weather conditions, and for dusty license plates.

Business value

Adopting automated payments is an obvious step for intrepid brands that aim to
discover more ways of addressing customers’ needs. Places where ANPR-based
payments may be used include:

  • gas stations
  • drive-through restaurants
  • retail stores (for pickup)
  • parking lots
  • toll roads
  • car washes
  • car maintenance centers

This technology eliminates the need for cash, cards, POS terminals, and QR codes.
Customers can authorize via a smartphone app by entering a license plate number,
connecting a card to it, and selecting whether to turn on two-factor authentication.

A zero-click payment option powered by artificial intelligence development provides
businesses with an opportunity to increase revenue by decreasing service time and
therefore being able to serve more customers. But most importantly, drivers can
benefit from this technology by saving time, effort, and money.

All in all, automated payments powered by AI are a win-win solution.

Read the original article here.

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