Walmart was granted a patent for an in store listening system to eavesdrop on employees and shoppers. According to the patent filing it’s a kind of surveillance system “for capturing and analyzing sounds in a shopping facility.”
The proposed listening system can target individuals and groups of people, able to detect the rustling of a single shopping bag or the rate of beeps at a register related to the rustling of that bag. It can listen in to customer and employee interactions, seeing what kind of conversations are going on.
The system wouldn’t just be a way to monitor employee interactions with customers, but potentially monitor what customers are saying in real time about products. The patent reads. “The system can process the audio of the conversation to determine whether the employee stationed at the terminal is greeting guests.”
Advanced monitoring systems to track shoppers and employees isn’t an original idea. Amazon has been testing cashier-less stores for years now. Amazon’s stores monitor the individual movements of shoppers and employees, even your gait and appearance.
Whether or not your privacy can be preserved in the face of this corporate surveillance is questionable.
Images from USPTO for US 10,020,004 B2 Patent