Retailers like Walmart are constantly seeking ways to make more money. They want you to spend more time in their store, buy more things, and spend more money than you planned. That’s why value sections and quick-buys that appeal to the deal-shopper in all of us, are so profitable. But now Walmart might be releasing a data-gathering technique that is something out of George Orwell’s 1984.
If Walmart has its way, they plan to unleash a fleet of smart shopping carts that track your movement and transmit all that data back to headquarters. Walmart’s proposed smart shopping cart will watch your movements and analyze where you like to go within the store. Each cart will have an array of sensors that follow your every movement, and even track things like walking speed and your body temperature.
Walmart’s new shopping carts will be able to track your pulse – so they’ll know when a good deal makes your heart race. The cart will also include a safety feature that can alert store associates if a shopper is about to pass out and injure him or herself. And the smart cart will also be equipped with a weight-triggered push feature that makes it super easy to push around a cart loaded to the brim with heavy, expensive items.
Walmart wants to know what makes your heart beat. They want to understand everything about you while you’re in their store. They will compile all this data onto servers that will then be analyzed. And that data might be responded to in real time. Imagine if Walmart could tell if you were “not satisfied” from your biometrics and then the invisible Big Brother alerted a store associate to help you.
Some people feel that technology can help shoppers. But most people understand that Walmart just wants to compile lots and lots of data about their customers so they can better market to them and get them to buy more items.
Walmart has filed a patent for smart cart technology.
Additionally, Walmart might use audio recordings to listen to what you talk about while in the store. They plan to use this at checkout to monitor cashiers and customers.
“A need exists for ways to capture the sounds resulting from people in the shopping facility and determine performance of employees based on those sounds,” Walmart stated in its patent application, called ‘Listening to the Frontend.’
In the patent, Walmart claimed that they need to be “always thinking about new concepts and ways that will help us further enhance how we serve customers. This patent is a concept that would help us gather metrics and improve the checkout process by listening to sounds produced by the bags, carts and cash registers and not intended for any other use.”
If Walmart is listening to your conversations and tracking your heart beat in store, will you continue to shop at the giant retailer? Does this type of technology make you feel like your privacy is being violated? Or is it just “good business?”