Walmart Inc. is one of America's retail corporations that manage multiple superstores, discount department stores and grocery stores across various states in the country. I'm sure many people love this store then. But, what you may not have known about Walmart is that they could possibly be eavesdropping on all, if not most, customer conversations within their stores sometime in the future.
Walmart has applied for a patent that includes a system to listen to literally every sound within the stores. Also, there is a patent that refers to a shopping cart handle that would track stress levels, the heat of your hand, and how hard you're gripping the handle etc.
Walmart is claiming this new patent will be used as an anti-theft tool as it would be able to hear the rustling of the shopping bags and the beeps at the cash register. The company can use this as anti-theft mechanism to find out the number of items in a transaction has actually been taken out.
But it's not only that. The system would be able to monitor employees' in real time. Their conversations with customers and how much work they do. As well as that, the system would be used to hear what customers are saying about their products. Useful but severely uncomfortable for some of us.
This kind of extensive monitoring systems is not exactly original as Amazon has something similar. Amazon has been creating cashier-less retail stores for about two years as of this date. This cashier-less system is now located in 9 stores. This system tracks the individual movements of shoppers and employees- both gait and your appearance. It also keeps track of whatever the shopper takes off of the shelves so then it can automatically charge the person when they're about to walk out of the store.
Currently, we have not heard if Walmart has any plans to deploy this system into their retail stores. Aside from the system being a little creepy, it does prove that Walmart is intently thinking about the future of shopping and security (they're also making sure that all their stock is paid for instead of being stolen). There is also the issue about the privacy of shoppers and whether the information can be preserved or not. But, that's a debate for another time.