Walmart’s Patent For Eavesdropping On Shoppers And Employees

Harin - Dec 22, 2018


Walmart’s Patent For Eavesdropping On Shoppers And Employees

Walmart received permission on its new patent for a listening system for its retail stores, which might invade employees and shoppers' privacy.

This week, Walmart received permission on its new patent. The new patent is for a listening system for Walmart’s retail stores. If this patent is deployed, shoppers and employees might feel uncomfortable. As stated in the filing, this patent is “an example system for capturing and analyzing sounds in a shopping facility.” To put it simply, this is a system for surveillance.

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Walmart's patent for a new listening system

For instance, this supposed system will have the ability to detect shopping bags’ rustling sounds and a register’s beep sounds. This tech could be used by Walmart to spot potential thieves by discovering the number of items in transactions as well as the number of bags checked out. This actually sounds like a sensible reason for a huge retail store to put this kind of application into use, right?

This is where the problem arises. Anti-theft will not be the only ability of this tool as it can also be used to monitor customers and employee interactions. Moreover, the customers’ real time opinions on the products will possibly be monitored.

In the filing of the patent, it said:

Quote

Monitoring systems for shoppers (as well as employees) tracking isn’t the company’s original idea. For two years, the firm’s rival, Amazon has been putting into test its Go retail stores which are cashier-less. The stores have expanded to nine locations. Employees as well as shoppers’ movements including your physical appearance and walking manner, are monitored by these stores. By doing this, Amazon can automatically charge you the moment you step out of the store.

At the moment, Walmart does not have any intention on deploying this system. However, it does mean that one of the world’s biggest retailers is considetring the future of retail and shopping security. In the future, will your privacy still be protected while shopping for grocery is still a question has yet to be answered.

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