Walmart Creating Shopping Carts to Spy on You

At some point developers need to realize that not every object needs a camera, microphone, and sensors attached. It’s one thing to put those on devices that you’re enjoying, but Walmart’s newest submission for a patent really takes the cake.

Walmart has applied for a patent for a smart shopping cart. It will be designed to give the store feedback on not just your spending habits, but also your heart rate and when you slow down to take a longer look at something, even if you don’t go on to buy it. It would then go on to use that data to get you to buy more.

Sometimes you go into a store for a specific reason. You go in, grab it, and you’re out. But sometimes you aren’t quite sure, and it’s nice to just look around and see what’s on sale, what’s new, what looks good, etc.

And that’s what Walmart wants to know. While stores already know what we buy from our receipts, Walmart also wants to know what items we slow down to look at, even if we don’t buy them. They want to know what we see that excites us so much our heart rate speeds up.

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Back in August Walmart applied for a patent on a “biometric feedback cart handle” for a shopping cart. This would allow the handle to measure your heart rate, temperature, speed, and the amount of force you use with the handle while pushing the cart around the store.

The patent shows that the cart would first measure “baseline” biometric data and would then compare the data at different points throughout the shopping trip.

A central server would then collect the data, and if it shows the shopper was “not satisfied,” an alert would be sent to a shopping assistant to go help the needy customer who didn’t even know they were needy.

The superstore chain is also investing in blockchain to track food suppliers and already has the patented technology to listen in on people in stores. Just remember that next time you’re in Walmart. They’re listening to your conversation.

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We already have targeted ads on our computers and mobile devices, thanks to browsers and social media sharing out data. It’s disturbing to be looking for a pair of shoes, only to have that same pair of shoes show up in an ad for you on a different site a half hour later. It’s creepy.

And now we’ll have that same thing happening from our visits to brick-and-mortar stores, but they’ll also know our vitals.

It just seems like it’s crossing a line. And people who are regular readers of this site and my articles know I’m usually easygoing about these types of things. But even I think this is going way too far.

Do you agree that Walmart’s smart shopping carts are going too far? Or would it not bother you to be tracked that way when you’re ‘inside a store? Add your thoughts and concerns to the comment section below.

Image Credit: Jared C. Benedict via Wikimedia Commons for Walmart photo; all others are public domain

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