October 26, 2018

Walmart's next generation carts might spy on you

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Retail giant Walmart has applied for a patent on a smart shopping cart, a technology that will be able to track shoppers’ spending habits as well as heart rate while they look around the aisle.

According to a report from Make Tech Easier, the technology will be able to spy when a shopper slows down to take a longer look at a certain self, allowing the retail outlets to estimate people’s buying behavior and nudge them to buy more.

The report suggested that Walmart now wants to know what the shopper is experiencing when they are looking around and noticing things that are new or that looks good.

The technology will allow the retail chain to track what kinds of products or product placements excites the shoppers so much that it increases their heart rate.

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Walmart applied for a patent on a ‘biometric feedback cart handle,’ back in August, which would allow the handles of their shopping carts to measure shoppers’ heart rate, temperature, speed, and the amount of force one uses on the cart.

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The patent suggests that the cart would first measure ‘baseline’ biometric data and then compare the data at different points throughout the shopping trip.

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The data would be collected by a central server and it will be analyzed to provide necessary recommendations to the shopping assistant regarding how best to help a customer.

Report further informed that the retail chain has also invested in blockchain that can track food suppliers. They have also patented technology that will allow them to listen in on people’s conversations in the stores.

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Meanwhile, Gizmodo explained that the patent, titled “System And Method For a Biometric Feedback Cart Handle,” also includes the possibility of including a ‘pulse oximeter,’ which is a device for non-invasively measuring oxygen saturation in a person’s bloodstream.

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So, the smart carts would even be able to measure just how tense, sweaty, and exhausted a shopper is while pushing it.

Make Tech Easier has raised significant concern over Walmart’s use of such technology that can spy on its customers. There certainly is a possibility of this news not going down well among its regular shoppers who want their privacy protected.

Previously, Walmart also got itself in a bit of a controversy after complaints were launched against 246,000 of their products posing ‘an injury hazard.’

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