back to article You know how online shops love to keep tabs on you? Now it's coming to the offline world

Intel promises to provide real-world retailers with the same analytics as online stores, with the release of a new internet-of-things retail platform. CEO Brian Krzanich announced Intel's Responsive Retail Platform (RRP) at the annual National Retail Federation conference in New York – with his organization also flagging the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, airport mode inside a shop?

    I guess the tracking will use Bluetooth, which has some form of unique ID too.

    Do Bluetooth jammers exist? It seems a market is emerging for it..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, airport mode inside a shop?

      Yep, they do.

      Cheap too..

      jammerfun.com (i think).

      Although they are illegal to use in the uk but not illegal to own!

      In the USA they are illegal to own and use.

      Which is odd because mine, coming from the UK, could ONLY be delivered to the USA.

      Fortunately, as i was on holiday in the States..... ;-)

      1. joed

        Re: So, airport mode inside a shop?

        Jammers may be illegal but a "Faraday cage" for you BT enabled device is just as good. And for now, disabling BT is the easy way (and luckily Apple stuff does not support NFC).

        BTW, I've recently noticed that MS also gives away users' data to BT beacons - Settings>Privacy(what privacy?)>Other Devices>Sync with devices..."that don't explicitly pair with your PC".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So, airport mode inside a shop?

          Doesn't this look a solution looking for a problem anyway?

          Restocking shelves is hardly rocket science, I was able to manage it as a spotty teenager in the 80s. These days shops know what's been bought anyway because they scan it all at the till.

          You can see where people go and hang around with your own eyes, you hardly need a tracking system to see what's popular or what's catching peoples eyes.

          Besides which all of this "data" doesn't seem to do on-line shops much good anyway.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I give you...

    [drum roll]

    The Faraday (cage) bag for life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I give you...

      Some other retailer who doesn't fucking spy everytime i spend my £!!!

      Always another choice of retailer.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: "Always another choice of retailer."

        For now.

        Enjoy while you can.

        In the meantime, forget Faraday cages - it is high time to invent the Local-Radius, Zero Fallout EMP Generator.

        1. Chemical Bob

          Re: "Always another choice of retailer."

          "Local-Radius, Zero Fallout EMP Generator."

          That's just a cattle prod with antennas.

      2. SoaG

        Re: Always another choice of retailer.

        Always is a strong word.

        I've been to 3 major hardware chains here in the last week, not a single light bulb among hundreds that isn't made in China.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Always another choice of retailer.

          "I've been to 3 major hardware chains here in the last week, not a single light bulb among hundreds that isn't made in China."

          The irony is that large-scale light bulb production in the EU was ended by the EU itself. Incandescent bulbs often used to be made in France, Romania, or other European countries. Then the EU banned them, and the new plants making the replacement CFL lamps were all set up in China.

        2. no-one in particular

          Re: Always another choice of retailer.

          > I've been to 3 major hardware chains here in the last week

          So you *have* had a choice of retailer, all of whom had equivalent goods (in this case, none that you liked, but all still equivalent). So if one of those retailers started doing creepy things tracking your purchase data, the others are equally fine choices of retailer.

    2. Rob D.

      Re: I give you...

      That would be a Faraday jump suit I think. And you'll need to pay in cash. And don't use your phone. And don't look at the cameras. And don't park your own car in the car park. And don't have a common buying pattern over any time period. Actually, just forget it - if you use a large retailer, you can't escape this situation indefinitely.

      Although this level of tracking and analytics isn't in common use, it is being developed and elements are already there, hence Intel's RRP - mono and stereo video feeds, infra-red tracking, mobile device tracking, WiFi tracking, app usage, BLE beacons, and so on, all collecting interesting metrics about footfall and behaviours. The analytics then links this information with actual consumer activity like buying patterns.

      As mentioned elsewhere, the differentiation is likely to be which retailers you trust the most to get the balance between service and intrusiveness. Though consider that with people's willingness to carry an active smartphone everywhere they go even if the practice of retail tracking isn't common, the means to do this has already been added to societal norms.

  3. paulf Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Already a rudimentary thing

    I have an online account with Wickes (a supplier of low cost/average quality building and DIY supplies). Deep in the fine print T+C of my last order was something about a new way they track my purchases. They will now link purchases made in store with my online orders where the in store purchase is made with the same payment card as I use on their website. I don't know if other retailers do this covertly like this (i.e. where they don't offer a purchase logger loyalty scheme) or whether this is just the first time I've spotted a retailer admitting to it but it's a bit creepy especially if their website purchase recommendations start saying things like "We know you bought paint at our High Street store yesterday, Did you know we have an offer on paint brushes?"

    <shivers>

    I know anonymity on in store purchases isn't likely these days as even if you pay with cash the CCTV and car park ANPR cameras will track you, but this really is a step too far IMO. The whole avoiding tracking is becoming a war of attrition and the retailers have bigger guns and much more time on their hands.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Already a rudimentary thing

      I wonder what would happen if very large numbers of their customers sent them Data Access requests for all the information being held on them?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Already a rudimentary thing

        "I wonder what would happen if very large numbers of their customers sent them Data Access requests for all the information being held on them?"

        They'd pocket the tenner & ensure they could get the data out to you for less. Probably outsourced to an Indian company who therefore also has the data, no scruples and no inconvenient DPA.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Already a rudimentary thing

        @Christoph,

        I don't think it would need to be a large number of people especially since I doubt that they are geared up to fulfil such requests in the first place.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Already a rudimentary thing

      I have a vague memory* of something over the Christmas period (possibly advert or advertorial masquerading as "news") that Amazon was setting up bricks+mortar stores. You sign into the shop on arrival, pick up what you want and just walk out with it. The items are all tagged so the exit knows what you've left with and bills you accordingly. I know this is a bit different to the Intel stuff (and yes I know that Amazon already track and data mine your purchases to death) but perhaps it's a sign of where we're headed in physical stores, especially if the Amazon system can monitor your movement around the store for marketing purposes as opposed to just detecting who is leaving with the detected list of items.

      As for the Intel shelf robot - I seem to recall electronic shelf price tickets being the next big thing about 12 years ago. This would resolve the shelf price accuracy but I've never seen them rolled out in any major UK retailer. Pricer is one, but I'm sure there are others. Surely the stock check could be built into the price label rather than having a robot bumbling about in between people that have difficulty steering trolleys.

      *<coughs> "Christmas Spirit" may have been involved

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: The items are all tagged

        Such a store would need to scan what you already had on you when you ENTERED the store, and subtract these from the items you had when you EXITED. Typical example is you remembered something else you needed, just after leaving. Ordinarily you would go straight back in to pick up the remaining item, but would you in this case where there was a possibility of being double-charged?

        Does this work the other way for refunds? You decide you don't want an item you'd just "purchased". Bring it back, leave it in the shop, the exit detector works out you walked out with less and deduct from your bill.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Already a rudimentary thing

        "The items are all tagged so the exit knows what you've left with and bills you accordingly"

        Hopefully the exit is some sort of "one person at a time" device otherwise how will the system know who to bill when you walk out with a 60" 4k TV right next to the person who picked up a new mixing bowl?

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Already a rudimentary thing

      "much more time on their hands."

      Too much time. Way too much.

      I know it seems a way out idea but have they ever thought of offering good customer service, competitive prices, well stocked stores and good quality stock kept in good condition e.g. premix concrete hasn't gone hard in the bags? It might get better results than creeping out customers by spying on them.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Already a rudimentary thing

      I assumed they were all probably doing that already. As you say, maybe Wickes are just the only ones to admit it. Once you've set up a loyalty card system to track customers' purchases, it's a minor change to key transactions on the payment card where no loyalty card is provided. Possibly not as accurate as keying on the loyalty card, but it would provide useful data for little cost.

    5. VinceH

      Re: Already a rudimentary thing

      Wickes "will now link purchases made in store with my online orders where the in store purchase is made with the same payment card as I use on their website."

      Yet more tracking of punters aside, one of the main things I take away from that is that Wickes are holding onto your payment card details. I hope they're good at security.

  4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    So lets get this straight: this is another creepy bloke in a dirty mac following me around

    He is supposed to give me "highly efficient and personalized shopping" - would that be the same as the bollocks with which I am currently presented online: I buy an $Article and am almost immediately presented with ads for more $Articles. Hullo creepy, I am all $Articled out.

    At customers'r'us, we believe that increasingly retailers will be separated by those who treat us like human beings and those who slurp data and use it to grow and optimise (or optimize) the shopping experience. TFTFY

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice robot you have there

    Pity if something happened to it..

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "he also highlighted a retail robot – Simbe Robotics' Tally – that can scan shelves and make sure that a store is stocked, with products in the right place, and with the correct prices."

    We should invent our own troop of robots equipped with video, WiFi and Bluetooth, that wander into the stores and start moving the stock into the wrong places, while changing all the prices, and see how they like that.

  7. js6898

    I am not sure how this is supposed to work. Got the sensors bit, but how does that track you? If you have WiFi and Bluetooth turned off on your phone, the only way they can track you is via your payment card. How do the sensors fit into tracking?

    1. DNTP

      They can see your heat

      And recognize your individual heat signature. Combined with heartbeat sensors they can tell which products get you excited, then flash ads for "related products" on the next smartscreen you pass. Pheromone sensors developed from the sniffers used for explosives detection give information about your diet, personal hygiene product preference, recent sexual history, current emotional state and pregnancy status. Low-level electromagnetic emitters in doorframes attempt to suppress neural frequencies in your brain associated with long-term planning.

  8. lukewarmdog
    Black Helicopters

    My local co-op already has all this, it's called local staff. They face up, they shelf stack, they tell me where they moved stuff that used to be in aisle 1, agree with me that it was stupid to put the eggs with the bread but they have a new manager so what can you do. They'll man a till when the store is busy and I'll often see them in one of the cafe's in the area grabbing lunch or whatever.

    We really don't need a fancy robot or shopping tracking devices, all my items get scanned at the till along with my loyalty card, there's already a database of what I buy and I already get coupons for my regular purchases or things they think I might like since I previously bought some other thing.

    I'm all for technology but I'm also all for being able to browse a store without an insane need for my date intruding on me.

  9. IsJustabloke
    Meh

    I know I'm swimming against the tide but....

    ... but I really don't care about stuff like this.

    A shop knows what I bought! *shock horror*

    A shop knows how I walked around their store! *shock horror*

    As has been pointed out already, online shops already know about everything I buy from *online shop* so what? take Amazon, they often seem ahead of the curve and yet pretty much every recommendation I ever get from them is for something I've already bought.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new

    Nearly 20 years ago my local chain bookstore would order books for me - and that required my name, address, and phone number. When querying the delay on one book it was revealed that they could call up a list of all the books I had ever bought from them over many years.

    Their head office said that shouldn't have happened as they were supposed to erase a transaction's record after 12 months.

    As far back as I can remember Maplin apparently wouldn't sell you anything if you wouldn't give the checkout your name and address.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new

      "As far back as I can remember Maplin apparently wouldn't sell you anything if you wouldn't give the checkout your name and address."

      They may ask but they don't get it. It's never been a problem with my local store, YMMV.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My local Waitrose is finally getting the message that I don't want a loyalty card - even though it would save money. I also pay with cash for most brick store purchases everywhere - not a card.

    Online stores obviously have an advantage of those brick stores in tracking what I look at or buy.

    Only when shops can recognise people by their faces will they enable full monetisation of a customer's data. They could even track which products you only looked at without then buying them.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Only when shops can recognise people by their faces will they enable full monetisation of a customer's data."

      They'll still fail because they'll not be able to work out what you actually want. Their best guess is what you bought before.

      Milk? Probably likely you'll buy more.

      Big value items such as a new TV? How many do you think I'll buy?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "They'll still fail because they'll not be able to work out what you actually want."

        There's no reason why they couldn't work out everything you linger in front of - suggesting you either want or could be persuaded you need.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "There's no reason why they couldn't work out everything you linger in front of - suggesting you either want or could be persuaded you need."

          If I spend time lingering in front of a product, it's because I'm trying to work you which is cheaper. Fruit and veg in particular. 90p/lb loose or 5 for a £1 in a bag. (or whatever), which is cheaper. Yes, I will take the time to take a bag over to the scales. Bananas, especially, can often be half the price bough loose. With many fruit/veg, one week the bagged are cheaper, other weeks the loose are cheaper but invariably the bagged will be sold by number and loose by weight if the numbers are small, eg bell pepper, apples, pears while spuds and carrots are bagged by weight.

  12. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Fuckin' A. Now every lightbulb in America will know when I buy crisps.

  13. DougS Silver badge

    How long before Intel's version 2.0 robots can stock shelves?

    I wonder how many people in the US and EU alone would be put out of work? Great for Intel, great for Trump, May and Le Pen, not so great for the guys who lose their jobs.

  14. Badger Murphy
    FAIL

    These will work for 2 weeks

    Most of the stores I go into can't even keep all of their point-of-sale systems and shopping carts in working order. These autonomous robots will be broken, crammed in a corner, and collecting dust in short order. This might happen even faster if they're vandalized regularly; I can't say I'm not tempted already!

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Doesn't matter here

    Nobody actually keeps anything I want in stock, so it's pointless going into a store to shop.

    Best Buy didn't have USB A-C cables.

    Cycle Gear didn't have non-magnetic tankbags.

    Harley Davidson didn't have tankbags AT ALL.

    Neither CG nor HD had Rox straps or Pinlock visor inserts.

    Neither Auto Zone nor Advance Auto had brake fluid testers.

    The Yamaha dealer didn't have clutch levers in stock.

    The photography shop didn't have a replacement for my cracked GoPro housing.

    Sears didn't have a 17mm Craftsman socket. Or combo wrench.

    So I sent several hundred dollars to Amazon.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Doesn't matter here

      Sounds like you've had a little mishap with your bike?

  16. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    I think the next revolution in supermarkets will be...

    ...electronic shelf price indicators. With that in place, coupled with the "scan as you shop" concept they can manipulate your shopping experience. For example the regular trolley jam in vegetables could be alleviated by advertising hefty discounts in the Indian cuisine section for the next 5 minutes... 4 minutes... hurry for your curry sauce, now... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFwRNp7NQ-Y

    The megalomaniac supermarket manager can sit in his office with the cctv's and dictate the deals on offer (oh curses I meant 10% not 50%, quick get crowd control to fence off aisle 5).

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I think the next revolution in supermarkets will be...

      "...electronic shelf price indicators."

      I think I may have seen those on Tomorrows World in the 70's or 80's. They were touted as a use case for small cheap e-ink display some years ago too. As another poster said earlier, they are yet to be seen in the wild in any real sense (at least here in the UK)

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