A patent recently issued to the retail giant would allow the use of an innovative listening system. According to the retail giant, the system’s main use would be “capturing and analyzing sounds in a shopping facility.” In lay terms, it’s a listening that would allow stores to listen to everything anything in the story e if used to its full capacity.
The patent reads, “The sound sensors can capture audio of conversations between guests and an employee stationed at the terminal.” The patent also states, “The system can process the audio of the conversation to determine whether the employee stationed at the terminal is greeting guests.” In other words, the system can monitor the conversations of employees with customers, what customers are saying about Walmart and much more. Ideally, this technology would be used to monitor employee performance and guard against theft. However, there’s a possibility that this technology could be extremely invasive.
Meanwhile, Walmart’s patent shows that the company is considering measuring customers’ health and moods through their skin. The patent describes a connected shopping cart handle with built-in biometric readers that could learn things about customers’ body temperature, walking speed, grip, and heart rate and offer different types of assistance.
“The server can, over time, build a table of the data associated with a customer’s visit to the store, the table being made of the biometric data and/or the non-biometric cart data. Specifically, as the data is received the data can be recorded and added to the table. In addition, within the table can be values and data extrapolations based on the other data,” the patent says. “For example, the server can create, within the table, a metric for the customer’s stress. This stress estimate can, for example, be calculated by weighting the biometric and non-biometric factors. As one example, if a customer’s temperature is increasing while the customer’s grip on the shopping cart handle simultaneously increases in force, the stress estimate may increase.”
Luckily they say it’s not happening anytime soon!