October 31, 2018
We have spoken before about the rapid growth of IoT, or Internet of Things. This technology is vastly becoming very popular as it is being utilised in a variety of industries, including the retail industry. Whether it’s making brick and mortar shops more convenient, in the case of Amazon Go, or whether it is the IoT mirrors in changing rooms that are allowing people to see what they look like wearing an article of clothing, without actually having to put it on. Overall IoT is really revolutionising retail.
American superstore chain, Walmart has seen this potential and it has recently been revealed that they are planning to equip the trolleys used in their stores with IoT chips. You would think the information the chips are gathering is data that can help the shoppers, and subsequently make their shopping experience more convenient through showing the shopper where they need to go for certain items. But instead, the trolley seems surprisingly health conscious, focusing on heart rate, your body temperature, how fast you are walking and even how hard you grip the trolley.
They are not collecting anything that can identify people, such as names, so Walmart doesn’t need to worry as much as other businesses. Businesses that do collect individual’s details and therefore have difficulty properly regulating the information thanks to laws such as GDPR, or the more recent California Consumer Privacy Act.
So even though they are collecting rather personal information concerning people’s health, customers of Walmart won’t have to worry about data theft as there isn’t anything to determine whose information they have.
Also, although at first glance, it may be unclear as to why Walmart is collecting these rather random and specific pieces of information, Walmart has clarified that the information collected by these Smart Trolleys can, in fact, determine how customers react to the products at Walmart as well to the store itself and it can alert the employees of Walmart who may be in need of some help in the store.
So what originally seemed like a strange use of IoT by Walmart has turned out to be a very helpful inclusion of the tech for a great cause, customer service. Although we don’t know for sure when these trolleys may be used, the plans for these Trolleys started back in February so they must have had some progress since. Regardless, it will be interesting to find out how the Trolley’s work once customers get the chance try these out.