Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Community News Network

October 18, 2013

'Smart' shelves to spy on grocery store customers

If you’ve ever wanted to say, “The shelves at the grocery store are spying on me” without being accused of harboring paranoid delusions, just wait until 2015.

That’s the year supermarket supercompany Mondelez International (owner of such brands as Nabisco, Kraft, Cadbury and others), in conjunction with Microsoft Kinect, will introduce so-called “smart” store shelves that can “identify the age and sex of the would-be snacker” in the supermarket aisle, the better to decide what sort of advertising to aim at them.  

Tech journalists were nearly unanimous in their effusive praise for this brave new world of in-store targeted advertising. Brian Fung at the Washington Post said, “It’s not quite Minority Report levels of creepiness, but it’s getting there." Fastcompany.com’s Neal Ungerleider called it "the ultimate in creepy yet inevitable marketing tech.”

The idea is that, in addition to identifying the age and gender of consumers, the “smart” shelves will be equipped with weight sensors that notice when an item has been moved. Presumably then, when the sensors detect that a box of cookies has been lifted up by a female aged 18-34, various in-store coupon dispensers or display screens will belch forth whatever suggestions their adbot algorithms think will persuade young women to buy cookies.

Or maybe not. As we’ve noted before, when marketers try targeting campaigns specifically at women, the results tend to be clueless at best and insulting at worst (no, pink packaging does not justify a fourfold price increase). Maybe they do better at marketing to men, though we’re inclined to doubt it.

From a consumer angle, we’re not sure what concerns we should focus toward this forthcoming smartshelf grocery technology: “Oh, no, it might persuade me to buy more junk food than I can afford,” or “Aw, crap, shopping’s irritating enough without computerized sensors tossing asinine ads my way.”

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 21, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.