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Walmart patents biometric shopping cart to track your vitals

By Shawn Knight · 7 replies
Oct 11, 2018
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  1. Shopping carts are a utilitarian asset meant to help haul goods you intend to purchase to the checkout lanes. Walmart, it seems, believes carts should be capable of far more.

    The big box retailer filed a patent earlier this year for a connected shopping cart with a biometric feedback handle. As per the patent, the cart’s handle could measure a shopper’s heart rate, temperature, their grip strength on the handle, their oxygen saturation, how long it has been since they last grabbed the cart’s handle and even the cart’s speed.

    Walmart asserts that the system could help the sick or elderly by dispatching an associate to perform a wellness check. Other embodiments describe linking cart data to a smartphone app to track calories burned and other fitness metrics.

    It’s one thing if you want to track the speed of a cart or its route through a store for marketing purposes but a desire to collect a user’s vital signs under the guise that you’re doing so to help sick or elderly shoppers or otherwise improve customer service is outright disturbing.

    Imagine how easy it would be to build profiles of shoppers based solely on their detailed vital signs. This is creepy on a whole new level. What’s next, blood samples and DNA swabs?

    As long as a shopping cart rolls in a straight line and doesn’t squeak, it’s doing its job. Similarly, Walmart’s job is to provide goods to its customers for purchase. Outside of proving a safe shopping environment (cleaning up spills, that sort of thing), Walmart isn’t responsible for the health of its customers.

    Fortunately, it's just a patent at this stage meaning there's no guarantee the tech will make it into public stores.

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. swagdaddy

    swagdaddy TS Rookie

    I, for one, welcome our new AI overlords. Sign me up!
     
  3. Plutoisaplanet

    Plutoisaplanet TS Rookie

    With the plastic bag ban in California, it's easy enough to not use a shopping cart. Or with Amazon. Pick your potion.
     
  4. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TS Maniac Posts: 164   +138

    Oh, please. Wake me up when they maintain the *regular* shopping carts that they already have properly, with all the wheels spinning like they should.
     
    Theinsanegamer and GreenNova343 like this.
  5. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Evangelist Posts: 960   +52

    LOL. This is so true. Meanwhile, I'm okay with this. Fact, they should've put a small screen to let you know what's your heart rate as you stroll around.
     
  6. GreenNova343

    GreenNova343 TS Maniac Posts: 294   +198

    Say what? That's funny, my iPhone already has a fitness app that will track my steps & convert them to calories while I'm walking, whether I'm pushing a connected cart or not; I would imagine most Android phones have similar features. Not to mention all those smart watches, wearables, & other devices that already have apps that will tell you how much you've moved/burned. And what about the baskets that you can use instead of a cart? Will those also be tracking-enabled? Will the trackers not work if you keep your gloves on in the wintertime (for those of us that actually have winters)? And will they give you a chance to opt out of it?

    No, this isn't about being "helpful" to customers, this is just getting that much more data about customers that can then be monetized (most likely by selling it to 3rd-parties). And don't worry about any claims of the data being kept "anonymous": geolocation tracking would be good enough that they would probably be able to use timecode stamps to match your particular cart to the checkout transaction, so that they can tie it into your purchasing patterns.
     
  7. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,267   +1,366

    I cant wait to mess with these, get a glove that imitates heart rate and make walmart think someone is walking around with a 230BPM heart rate.
     
  8. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,267   +1,366

    The ironic thing is they push all this tech constantly to mine information on you to push products on you.

    Via advertising. Which I block everywhere. And most people I know are starting to use adblockers.

    All the money in these projects is being wasted.
     

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