In Capitalist America, Your Groceries Shop for You!

Walgreens is testing out cameras to watch shoppers, analyze them for demographic information, and refine their marketing systems. And they aren't the only ones.


douglas said...

Eh, I have serious doubts about the accuracy of such claims. Remember, someone is selling that tech, and who's to say they aren't inflating it's capabilities a bit? I mean, how does a camera and facial recognition system determine your income bracket?

Tom said...

Well, they are not using facial recognition. That's illegal in Illinois, so they are using biometric analysis, measuring distances between facial features, etc. There's nothing about them learning your income bracket, just age and gender.

The cameras also record what people pick up, of course.

Tom said...

Although, if they did use a facial recognition system, there's nothing to prevent them from scanning Facebook, Instagram, etc., and finding out who you are, adding all the data together, and then maybe they could estimate your income bracket, marital status, parental status, etc., from there. I dunno.

douglas said...

Looking again, you're right about the coolers. There was this: "Last year, a Canadian mall used cameras to track shoppers and make inferences about which demographics prefer which stores."
As far as scanning the internet, they aren't going to get anything on me I don't think.

So I don't doubt that on some people they can aggregate enough data to make some inferences, but I think there's a lot of ways those algorithims can get it wrong. Remember, all the makers of these systems have to do is convince the companies that it will produce useful information. Whether or not it does may still be up in the air.

Disclaimer: Im not saying there isn't a real ability to do some of this, but I think you need more than a camera in the store and access to the internet and an algorithim. You need data on the level of Google or Amazon to really build a somewhat reliable picture.