AI image analysis tapped as business tool in Japan

Artificial intelligence is finding its way into Japan's shopping malls and factory floors to improve market research and workplace safety.

Precision equipment maker Konica Minolta and trading house Marubeni have developed a system that links AI to cameras at commercial facilities.

The system analyzes the number of visitors, their gender and age, while protecting privacy.

One shopping mall near Tokyo used the software to get a better grasp of its customer base and peak congestion hours. It managed to attract new tenants as a result.

Shopping mall head, Motozawa Shinichi said, " It makes a big difference if we can be sure that we are getting the right kind of customers for our tenants. In that respect, kudos goes to AI."

Industrial conglomerate Toshiba is developing AI software designed to replace face-to-face safety checks of workers at factories and construction sites.

The system analyzes images and provides answers when asked if workers are wearing protective gloves and safety helmets. Toshiba is aiming to commercialize the software by fiscal 2023, to help prevent businesses from overlooking potential hazards.