Walmart secured patent to eavesdrop on shoppers

Walmart was recently granted a patent for a new listening system for its retail stores. The filing and claims say that it is “an example system for capturing and analysing sounds in a shopping facility.” This could be a probable stepping stone towards the growth of Walmart’s retail stores.

Walmart is an American multinational retail co-operation. It is well known for running a chain of grocery stores, hypermarkets as well as discount department stores. The concept of using such an improvised system for surveillance is something really unique. However, this surveillance system may not be accepted by all the employees and shoppers. The reason behind this dilemma is the privacy issue. Not all the employees and customers are comfortable with the idea of constant supervision.

What can this new system do?

This new listening system sounds like a legitimate utilization of the advancing technology. It could serve as a potential anti-theft solution. It could help Walmart monitor whether the number of items in a transaction and number of bags used- equivalent. And also have the ability to detect the beeps at a register as well as the rustling of shopping bags.

“Walmart would give you the chance to eavesdrop on shopper’s conversation.” This is where the conspiracy ends and the concern begins. In addition as an anti-theft mechanism, it could also serve as a system to monitor the interactions between employees and the customers.

It also finds use as a feedback system, by monitoring what the customers claim about the products. The patent reads, “Additionally, the sound sensors can capture audio of conversations between guests and an employee stationed at the terminal. The system could process the audio of the conversation to determine whether the employee stationed at the terminal- greeting guests.”


Origin of the idea for proposing the new listening system

However, the use of such advanced surveillance systems isn’t completely the idea of Walmart alone. From the past two years, Amazon has been experimenting it’s cashier-less Go retail stores. The individual physical appearance and movements- supervised by these stores. Done in order to keep track of the items taken from the shelves by each customer. Once they walk out of the store, Amazon automatically charges them for the purchased items, without the necessity of billing by a cashier. This cashier-less approach has been highly beneficial and presently is in use in nine locations.

Amazon has been Walmart’s retail rival for a long time now. Amazon is growing at good pace with its new cashier-less Go retail stores. Walmart is now working on new technologies to keep up with the competition.

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When system to deploy in Walmart retail stores?

Walmart doesn’t plan on making use of the new surveillance system in the near future. Nonetheless, being one of the world’s largest retailers, it has justified its futuristic thinking regarding shopping and retail security. With the use of such exceptional surveillance systems, the customer’s privacy while is shopping questionable.

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Vaibhav Tyagi

Vaibhav Tyagi

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