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IBM to test people-sniffing tech in UK supermarket chain

Is it Safeway? Betcha...

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IBM is planning to unleash people-sniffing technology on supermarket shoppers, according to a report at beyond2000.com. The "Footprints" system equips the supermarket (or any other location you might fancy) with arrays of thermal sensors, which then track the movements of individual consumers throughout the store. Not a lot of people know it, but your thermal signature is aparently sufficiently individual for it to work as an identifier in this context. You can therefore be "followed" around the store, and it's manifestly clear that the store owners will be just gagging for extra information they can use to maximise the value of the data they're picking up. On its own, Footprints provides a picture of the routes people take when going round a supermarket, so the layout can be modified in order to make their shopping lives easier. Or data on standard movements can be used to predict an oncoming rush to the checkouts before it happens. But don't they want to know what people are buying while they're wandering around as well? Of course they do. Footprints is going into trial this year in an un-named British supermarket chain, but we bet it's Safeway. A while back IBM UK piloted a barcode shopping system in conjunction with Safeway, and combining that or something similar with the sniffer technology would leverage the store's info quite nicely. We're tottering on the brink of linking individual identities to shopping behaviour here, aren't we? But of course we wouldn't do anything like that, oh no... ® See also: SSupermarkets check you out

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