TSmart vending machines are common sights across Japan, a country where jidohanbaiki dispense everything from beer to sake and from batteries to magazines. Some of these machines are able to develop relationships with shoppers, and this is something that is clearly lacking in the United States, a market that is ripe for revolution in automated vending and kiosks. Dawn Dickson, an African-American woman who is leading figure in the black tech community, is working on getting this revolution started, and one of her latest ventures involves facial recognition and artificial intelligence.
Dawn Dickson is a serial entrepreneur with four successful projects in her portfolio. Her idea for PopCom, a tech firm that develops kiosks and vending machines equipped with facial recognition and AI technology, came from her experience with Flat Out of Heels, a startup that provides flexible shoes that can be rolled into bundles small enough to fit into purses. What Dickson realized after a few years heading this company is that she did not actionable customer data, which is an issue faced by the vending segment in the United States.
The vending machines pioneered by PopCom have advanced features such as biometrics, facial recognition, AI, metrics, and analytics. These are the kind of machines that Dickson envisioned to sell her innovative flats, which would be perfect at conventions and other events where women have to endure walking around in high heels for hours. The face recognition aspect of PopCom’s machines is anonymized and completely optional. The AI comes into play in the form of advanced analytics, a very important factor of retail sales in the 21st century. We are talking about machines and kiosks that can analyze foot traffic, generate leads, and promote brands through digital marketing and wireless communications.
Dickson has already been recognized in the black tech segment by publications such as Forbes, Essence, CNBC, MSNBC, Fortune, INC Magazine, and The Miami Herald. She has been an entrepreneur since the turn of the century, and one of her current projects involves digital currencies; in fact, crowdfunding of PopCom was accomplished through a secure token offering. She intends to continue funding projects in this fashion because she believes in reaching out to prospective investors who may not necessarily be venture capitalists.