New Store Signs Can Spy On Customers

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) have created technology that will allow signs in stores to detect a customer’s gender and which products a shopper looks at.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the two tech giants argue “By gathering information about which messages are more effective traditional retailers could develop marketing approaches that better counter Web-based competitors.” E-commerce sites can obviously “watch” behavior base on how customers move around their sites and by what they buy.

The new technology will raise privacy issues as almost all technology for detecting individual habits does. Stores may use their collection of customers habits to encourage people to shop in sections of retail outlets that do not satisfy the customer’s needs or their desires to simply “shop” by wandering.

Shoppers often ask for help at stores, if they want to find items that are of interest to them. That may be as accurate a gauge of what people are likely to buy as anything technology can provide. A retail clerk can at least take someone to the crafts section instead of the place where the store sells Kraft products.

Douglas A. McIntyre