Last year, a New York Times reporter discovered that complex customer tracking data enabled Target to know that a teenager was pregnant before her father did. Grocery stores, it turns out, are only getting creepier.
The Wall Street Journal reported that snack king Mondelez International, the evil geniuses behind Oreos and Chips Ahoy! among others, is creating a “smart shelf” display unit that will use sensor technology to identify the age and sex of the customer by the checkout counter. This data would enable the shelf to determine what kind of treat it should push the shopper to impulse buy via an ever-changing video ad display.
But just in case you were worried that this sounds too much like Minority Report, the WSJ writes, ”to ensure privacy, the smart shelf software cannot recognize individual faces and the company will not keep database to match faces against.”
The “smart shelf,” set to go public in 2015, is only the latest development in what is being described as “The Internet of Things,” an industry that Gartner Inc. believes will be worth $1.9 trillion in 2020.