Walmart files new patent for shopping carts that can spy on customers

I don’t know about you, but I go to the grocery store every single weekend to pick up supplies for the week to come.

I’m one of those shoppers that – frustratingly – can take two hours to do a shop that should take fifteen minutes. So often do I find myself pausing to examine or compare different products, adding unnecessary time onto what is already a fairly tedious task.

Safe to say I’m not the only one who does this. We’ve all been there when it comes to taking the time to peruse the shelves; it’s something we think nothing of.

But just because we don’t think anything of our shopping habits, doesn’t mean the stores don’t. Take Walmart, for example, who are aiming to learn more about how people shop, including what gets your heart racing and what sort of products make you excited …

Credit: Flickr/ Progress Ohio

Yes, you read that right. Though the retail giant can tell what you’ve bought from your receipt – and thereby make an educated guess as to what you might buy next time – they’ve applied for a patent for smart shopping carts that can give the store digital feedback.

According to reports, these carts are to be equipped with sensors that will read your pulse, palm temperature, walking speed and the force with which you push the card around the shop.

Sounds like something from Black Mirror, right? Well, the patent also revealed that these smart carts would include a pulse oximeter, to detect if a customer is close to passing out, as well as weight-triggered push assistance that will help customers push the cart when it gets too heavy.

Walmart store
Wikimedia Commons

It’s thought that by monitoring your biometrics, Walmart will be able to better understand how customers feel when in the store. The data could then be fed through a server, enabling a store employee to come to your assistance if they suspect you’re not completely happy.

The documents state that the technology is simply being devised to maximise service and satisfaction for customers, though there are those who remain sceptical as to Walmart’s true motivations.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As per BuzzFeed, the retailer has already filed a patent for another piece of questionable tech.

It’s said they’re considering the use of audio technology to listen in on conversations between customers and cashiers at the checkout!

Now, it should be mentioned that the patent applications don’t necessarily mean Walmart are going to actually use them anytime soon – that’s if they’re approved – but many people have still been left feeling as though their privacy may be infringed upon.

What side of the fence do you sit? Should Walmart and other superstore chains have the ability to garner information on you? Is it a breach of privacy?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below, and share this article for all those who haven’t seen the news!