What is wrong with humanity? Everyone knows, and science proves, smoking is bad for your health. Drinking or texting while driving is a recipe for disaster. It’s math, yet people have few qualms about using Google to search online, or using Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, or using Amazon to buy cheap goods from China while railing on about the danger of imported goods.
Look, technology has benefits for humankind, but as with every tool, there are good uses, and bad uses. Hammers? Good for building. Guns, good for hunting and protection. Yet, both– and many other tools designed for a different purpose– can be used against us.
Now is a good time to consider where you shop for drug store goodies and to fill prescriptions. Why? Walgreen’s is working with a company that sells coolers that spy on you. Sure, up front, they seem useful, but guess what? Information gathered about you has legs.
Rather than a basic, transparent glass door, coolers and freezers will be sealed by screens that show a sanitized image of the products behind them.
How can that be bad?
After all, it can help the stores to save energy, better monitor inventory, make it easier for people with poor eyesight to see what’s inside, and even make some products look better (advertising).
What’s not to like?
These screens are equipped with sensors and cameras designed to watch and profile the appearance and actions of customers who find themselves in their path, like me. Approximate age and gender. How long my gaze lingers on the bottles of tea.
Big Brother is watching you shop.
I see a problem with the second level of the idea– the one whereby information about you is collected and used against you in real time. It might be OK to walk into Cheers, where everybody knows your name, but the idea of walking by a shelf or cooler or anywhere in a store and having it greet me by name is disconcerting.
Ok, Ok, this idea isn’t one whereby the cooler knows my name and shopping history, but it’s just a hop, skip, jump, and facial recognition scan before that happens.
We work with retailers to deploy Smart Coolers in their stores. The Smart Coolers are equipped with computerized cameras that record videos and images of consumers who walk by or stand in proximity to the Smart Coolers. The cameras are connected to software provided by our Service Providers. Depending on the jurisdiction, the software may process facial images of consumers in real-time to determine gender, age or age range, number of consumers, and/or how consumers interact with the Smart Coolers.
Technology has become too creepy to trust, and I plan to make plenty of noise wherever I see my favorite retailers employing a new tactic to try to sell me more goods. Yes, I know, everybody is out to get your money, but at least I have a choice of where it goes. Retailers who know me better than my mother are stacking the sales process against their customers.
Technology is getting too creepy to trust.