Would biometric feedback shopping carts creep out Walmart’s customers?
Walmart has filed an application for a patent on shopping cart technology that uses sensors in the handles to track not only the speed of the cart but the heart rate and body temperature of the person pushing it along. The news has some saying … well, “Ewww.”
While many articles reporting on the technology were neutral, other columnists found the thought of its application in stores disturbing for its big brother-like intrusiveness. Here are three headlines that make the point:
- “Walmart’s terrifying shopping cart design measures your speed and heart rate”
- “Creepy Walmart Patent Reveals Shopping Carts That Track Your Pulse”
- “Walmart Just Filed for a Weird Patent. Shopping Carts May Never Be the Same”
The patent application abstract posits that collecting the biometric data through the cart’s handles in near-real-time will allow the store to identify and direct associates to assist customers in need of help. A pulse oximeter would be able to identify customers who may be on the verge of passing out, reports Motherboard.
While alerting associates to better serve customers is one potential use for the technology, there are others, as well. The patent, according to Motherboard, also describes a weight-triggered function that propels the cart forward as it fills up.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you think Walmart shoppers would react to the shopping cart technology described in its patent application? If implemented, how would the data collected through shopping carts complement other information Walmart has on customers in its stores?