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Retailers snooping into smartphones

December 13, 2013


Tracking is the latest thing in retail industry. Thousands of sensors are scattered around shopping malls to identify how people buy things, where they linger and which products get picked up more frequently, all to help retailers understand consumers’ behavior between the aisles.

Some of these data is gathered with consent. By downloading apps people are allowing shops to follow them around, receiving in return discounts and tailored offers. There is however, a new generation of systems that record people’s movements by using heat sensors on existing security cameras. In May, for instance, a system was tested, using Wi-Fi signals from smart phones to track customers and analyze their shopping behavior. Even though signs about the testing were posted, specifically promising not to collect information about individuals, the trial caused uproar on social networks.

It is estimated that about a 1,000 retailers in US alone, from little shops to large stores, have already outfitted their aisles with sensors monitoring shoppers’ paths. Raising concerns about peoples’ privacy, some retailers hold off on tracking technology. If you get a strange feeling in a shop, like you are being followed around, stop looking over your shoulder and check your smartphone.


From → Hic Salta

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