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T-Factory Is a Store Without Staff Selling Smartphones Using Facial Recognition

Buy a phone, receive AI-based consulting, and enjoy VR and AR experiences 24 hours a day.

By Matthew Humphries

Apple is currently converting more of its retail locations into Express Stores to protect both staff and customers. But in South Korea, a new store is opening that goes a step further: It has no staff at all and never closes.

As 9To5Mac reports, the new store is called T Factory and it has been created by telecom company SK Telecom (SKT) as a way of sharing “SKT’s future ICT vision and introduce the company’s latest achievements in technologies and services, as well as its partnerships.” The standout feature of the store right now is the fact it’s open 24 hours a day but doesn’t have any staff.

Instead, SKT is relying on facial recognition to know who is in the store. Customers register before visiting and can then self check-in on arrival using their face. Once inside, they can purchase a range of devices from companies including Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, which includes the latest iPhone 12 models. Customers will able to “compare smartphones, receive AI-based consulting on price plans, purchase a smartphone & accessories, sign-up for service and sell used phones.”

But the store promises much more, including augmented reality experiences, virtual reality, and “5GX Cloud Game,” which was launched with Microsoft to offer Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in South Korea.

“T Factory, as the name implies, is a place where technologies for tomorrow are constantly created. It will be a venue of innovation and creativity where people of diverse backgrounds and expertise come together to share ideas and openly collaborate,” said Park Jung-ho, CEO of SK Telecom. “I hope T Factory will not only provide customers with new experience and fun, but will also encourage ICT companies to dive into new experiments and ventures, thereby inspiring and energizing the whole ICT industry in Korea.”

If T Factory proves popular, it seems likely other locations will pop up, considering how much easier it is to run a store without staff during the pandemic. What remains unclear is how SKT intends to keep the store clean for customers, though. With no staff, how do you wipe down surfaces to ensure they are free of the virus?

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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