We all know that online retailers have long gathered behavioral data about how we shop, by tracking our movements through e-shopping pages and using this data to make targeted offers based on our perceived likes. Now it appears that retailers in the brick and mortar arena are trying to replicate this by making frequent shopper offers, or provide store loyalty cards, to get us to voluntarily cough up data about our buying habits. While all well and good, these means are lagging indicators rather than a real-time means of tracking the human animal as they prowl for their pray. However this holiday season, this will all change as shopping malls around the US have started collecting data about us by tracking us by using our favorite “cookies” and they aren’t chocolate chip.
It fact it’s our cell phones as new technology name “Footpath “ from Path Intelligence uses monitoring units spread throughout a mall to sense the movement of us human animals by triangulating our position using the strength of their cell phone signals. Yes, you can run however you can’t hide as so long as you have that thing in your pocket, it is always transmitting information about itself and therefore you.
While “Footpath” only uses the signal fingerprint of the phone, it does produce a fairly accurate and detailed record of where the phone and you the carrier have travelled visiting the mall. So now what if they decided it was time to put a face with a name, as that is always a good thing right as we all friends and what a better way to get to know one another right?
While you might think this might be a hard thing to do, think again as what does the mall have a lot of besides stores? Easy one, as it’s the famous security cameras so your right and it as simple as recording your face and cell signal as you go walking by and bingo. As it also seems that some malls are even using facial recognition software for the purpose of loss prevention to help them in identifying serial shoplifters much like in Vegas for those nasty card counters. So no big issue on letting it (the facial recognition software) loose on the general public and bingo there you go a ready built database of customers, cell phone and wait a minute how are they going to put a name with this?
Oh, wait there is Facebook and you know it does a wonderful job adding names to the faces in your pictures doesn’t it? Well bingo for the second as you go, we now know your cell (id), your face, and your name! Just think of how far you could easily take this with a small receiver attached to a traffic light camera and bingo for round three for a trifecta.
As waxed here before, privacy was only an illusion created by cost, and with that gone so are the flood gates and welcome to 1984 (just a few years late)…