Cameras that guess your age and sex are coming to store shelves

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「Eyeing that can of soda in the supermarket cooler? Or maybe you're craving a pint of ice cream? A camera could be watching you.

But it's not there to see if you're stealing. These cameras want to get to know you and what you're buying.

It's a new technology being trotted out to retailers in the United States, where cameras try to guess your age, gender or mood as you walk by. The intent is to use the information to show you targeted real-time ads on in-store video screens.」

The physical botnet coming to a store near you !!! So now you're saying that I can't even have a peace of mind when shopping because these cameras are ACTIVELY watching me and trying to collect my informational habits?!

「Companies are pitching retailers to bring the technology into their physical stores as a way to better compete with online rivals like Amazon that are already armed with troves of information on their customers and their buying habits.

With store cameras, you may not even realize you are being watched unless you happen to notice the penny-sized lenses. And that has raised concerns over privacy.

"The creepy factor here is definitely a 10 out of 10," said Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit that researches privacy issues.」

As I have said in previous articles - We're going to continue to have the normalization of surveillance and automatic 'opt-in' until people actually start doing something about it. Just because Amazon has the information on their customers doesn't mean that physical stores should do the same whatsoever. For people that think "Oh I can just shop online instead" - That is not a solution and I would argue that its actually worse. You can't shop anonymously like you can when shopping at a physical store - You have to give away your debit/credit card information, email address, in most cases phone number, and shipping address at a minimum. Thats all personal information that can be linked back to you. You can at least pay anonymously in cash at a physical store. So these cameras are so small and unnoticeable that most people won't even notice them? And without any sort of indication or label that it may be there? Man aren't we fucked - Being spied on without any notice. All the big stores and corporations will start using manipulative, deceptive, invasive, and aggressive ads. Yes you're correct Pam Dixon.

「Serving ads based on how you look

At the National Retail Federation trade show in New York earlier this year, a smart shelf on display by Mood Media tried to detect "happiness" or "fear" as people stood in front it — information a store could use to gauge reaction to a product on the shelf or an ad on a screen. Cineplex Digital Media showed off video screens that can be placed in malls or bus stops and try to tell if someone is wearing glasses or sporting a beard, which in turn can be used to sell ads for new frames or razors.

The screens can also be placed at the drive-thru. A minivan pulling into a fast food restaurant, for example, might get an ad for a family-sized meal on the video screen menu.」

A smart shelf that can detect your emotions, your facial features, shits your mind with what it thinks you want and probably with a discount, and can keep the information that it collects on you. And lets not forget to mention that this enables them to collect information from minors as well. If these video screens can be placed in multiple places outside of the store then it'll get harder and harder to avoid ads altogether. They'll be everywhere by the time you know it. It will be unavoidable.

「For now, the cameras are in just a handful of stores.

Kroger, which has 2,800 supermarkets, is testing cameras embedded in a price sign above shelves in two stores in the suburbs outside Cincinnati and Seattle. Video screens attached to the shelves can play ads and show discounts. Kroger said the cameras guess a shopper's age and sex but the information is anonymous and the data is not being stored. If the tests work out well, the company said it could expand it into other locations.

Walgreens, which has more than 8,000 drugstores, installed cooler doors with cameras and sensors at six locations in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Bellevue, Wash. Instead of the usual clear glass doors that allow customers to see inside, there are video screens that display ads along with the cooler's contents.

Above the door handle is a camera that can try to guess ages and track irises to see where you are looking, but Walgreens said those functions are off for now. The company said the cameras are currently being used to sense when someone is in front of the cooler and count the number of shoppers passing by. It declined to say if it will turn on the other functions of the camera.」

So you can't even see whats inside the shelves anymore...You are forced to look at these video screens first and then you can open to see whats inside. Fuck - They even mention that there are SENSORS so they know when you're close! You can NEVER trust when any company says that 'information is anonymous' and 'data is not being stored'. They have absolutely no way to prove that and I wouldn't doubt that they would lie about it. You can't have 'targeted' ads without building a profile on individuals linked to their face and mental well being - And that information will probably be sold to 3rd parties too.

「"All such enhancements will be carefully reviewed and considered in light of any consumer privacy concerns," Walgreens said.」

*Yawn* All fluff to make then look like they're doing something when in actuality they probably won't.

「Privacy experts are concerned

Advocates of the technology say it could benefit shoppers by showing them discounts tailored to them or drawing attention to products that are on sale. But privacy experts warn that even if the information being collected is anonymous, it can still be used in an intrusive way.

For instance, if many people are eyeing a not-so-healthy dessert but not buying it, a store could place it at the checkout line so you see it again and "maybe your willpower breaks down," said Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law and co-director of its Tech Policy Lab.

"Just because a company doesn't know exactly who you are doesn't mean they can't do things that will harm you," Calo said.」

In other words, this is a pretty good example of manipulation and mind control. You intended not to do something and then you are tricked into doing the thing you didn't want to do.

「The technology could also lead to discriminatory practices, like raising prices when an older person walks in or pushing products based on your perceived mood such as ads for anti-depression medication if the cameras think you look sad, adds Dixon of the World Privacy Forum.

"We shouldn't be gathering the emotional state of anyone," Dixon said.

At a Walgreens in New York, a sign above a rack of wines said the store is testing cameras and sensors that "do not identify you or store any images." The sign doesn't say where the cameras or sensors are, but it does have a web address for the privacy policy of Cooler Screens, the company that makes the doors.」

But how do these discriminatory practices work? How does the raised price for the older person stick to that person until they pay for that product? This is something that needs to be clearly addressed - And it'll probably end up being more invasive than it was originally thought to be. The perceived mood can make sense if they display the ads on video screens in the direction the person is looking. Oh no - It seems that you have to go through some effort to look at Cooler Screens's privacy policy. Like hell almost nobody will bother to read it anyway despite it being very anti-privacy.

「Calvin Johnson, who was looking for a Snapple, said he visited the store before, but didn't notice the cameras until a reporter pointed them out.

"I don't like that at all," Johnson said.」

So we have one person, the privacy-minded or aware individual, that doesn't like being watched by cameras especially when nobody is informed that they're even there and for no way to opt-out.

「Another shopper, Ray Ewan, said he noticed the lenses while grabbing a Diet Coke, but isn't concerned since cameras are hard to avoid.

"There's one on each corner," Ewan said.」

And then on the other hand, we have a person that seems to have been normalized to the surveillance of the cameras and has stopped caring - aka the defeatist.

「Not all retailers are keen on adding embedded cameras. Walmart's Sam's Club, which is testing shelves with digital price tags, is cautious about them.

"I think the most important thing you do with tech like that is to make sure people know," said John Furner, Sam's Club's CEO. "You don't want to surprise people on how you use technology or data."」

Finally someone that fucking gets it!

「Jon Reily, vice president of commerce strategy at consultancy Publicis. Sapient, said retailers risk offending customers who may be shown ads that are aimed at a different gender or age group. Nonetheless, he expects the embedded cameras to be widely used in the next four years as the technology gets more accurate, costs less and shoppers become used to it.

For now, he said, "we are still on the creepy side of the scale."」

Risking offending customers is not a big deal to them I'm sure - They'll just keep displaying ads anyway. In fact, that is ideal for the privacy-minded since the algorithm is messed up. Sadly, the technology will continue to evolve and everyone will think its the new normal.. The only way to stop this is to spread awareness, disagree with these practices, protest, boycott, etc..