Shopper Surveillance Using Microsoft XBox Kinect
Software development company Agile Route has released shopping analytics software that uses the Microsoft XBox Kinect gaming system to track shoppers in real time. According to the company's web site, the software uses the Kinects 3-d spatial recognition capabilities to collect data about individual shopper movements. Shoppers are given a unique identifier, and multiple shoppers can be tracked at one time.
The data collected by the Kinect system are then analyzed to determine shopper movements relative to shelf locations, and real-world comparisons came be made between shopper movements when a display is set up in two different ways.
The company claims the system protects shopper privacy by not recording any personal information. Questions about how the system differentiates between shoppers over time were not immediately answered by Agile Route. If images of actual shoppers are recorded, there are some obvious privacy concerns.
The Xbox Kinect has raised privacy concerns in the past when Microsoft suggested they would use information gathered through the Kinect system to target advertising to Kinect users. Microsoft has subsequently worked hard to assure Kinect users that they will not use Kinect information for advertising.
Even when "personal information" is not collected consumers tend to dislike surveillance. Mall owner Forest City decided to pull the plug on a cell phone tracking program due to consumer complaints.