Little partners with Microsoft in Cognitive Services

From L to R: Kunle Awosika, Small, Medium and Corporate Lead, Microsoft Africa and Kamal Budhabhatti, chairman, Little during the launch of the driver online verification feature on its app.

With over 200 000 downloads now and close to 2000 drivers using Little, a Kenyan cab hailing service, Little and Microsoft have partnered to safeguard both driver and rider peace by integrating the driver online verification feature on its app, using face recognition technology provided by Microsoft Cognitive Face API.

Microsoft’s Cognitive Face API is part of a service, which ensures the driver using the app matches the account on file.

“We are competing with most big companies in the world. We just cannot compete with this companies from a capital scale. The only way we can compete is through ensuring that we innovate. That is why we piloted the security feature at the beginning of July with 100 of our drivers. Following a successful launch, we are now expanding and rolling it out to the rest of our drivers,” said Kamal Budhabhatti, chairman, Little.

When put into action, the new security offering is simple. Drivers goes online to the platform, and are prompted to take a selfie, which is then compared to images on Little’s records. This ensures that riders on this platform have improved peace of mind while using the service, as it eliminates the opportunity for non-registered drivers to pose as Little drivers and pick up unsuspecting customers.

Microsoft Cognitive API, the technology behind the security solution, is a product of Microsoft’s cloud-based offering, Azure. Using advanced face algorithms, it has the ability to detect human faces, compare these to similar ones and organize images into groups based on similarity. ‘Face verification’, determines the likelihood that two faces belong to the same individual. The API technology then provides a confidence score based on the likelihood.

“Little is one of the most exciting companies in Kenya at the moment and their commitment to security, innovation and productivity is one of the main reasons why we chose to partner with them. Their offering ties in perfectly to our commitment to empower every person on the planet to achieve more,” says Kunle Awosika, Small, Medium and Corporate Lead, Microsoft Africa.

This technology also protects the drivers from being a victim of fraud. Their accounts cannot be compromised because only they can access them. This adds to a long list of reasons why drivers would want to sign up with Little.

Meanwhile, riders also continue to see the benefit of riding with Little. Each Little vehicle allows passengers to stay connected and remain productive by offering free Wi-Fi and SOS services. This helps address a demand by professionals to work on the go or remotely with a peace of mind.

Little remains to be the first company to deploy the technology in the region, however in March 2017, Microsoft also partnered with Uber USA to enhance both driver and rider peace of mind.

Uber also uses the Face API, part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, to help ensure the driver using the app matches the account on file. The extra verification step is fast, works on all smartphones and in dim light, and scales to more than 1 million driver-partners. By using the Face API, Uber saved months of development work, time it could devote to tailoring the user experience.

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