Recycling Bins Track Pedestrian Phones To Target Ads

Recycling Bins Track Pedestrian Phones To Target Ads

Smart trash cans collect people's information without them knowing.

Ross Brooks
  • 12 august 2013

We talked about high-tech trash cans being installed during last year’s London Olympics, but now they’re due for an upgrade, getting new features that will allow them to track smartphone use.

Already outfitted with advertising screens, a handful of the city’s 100 Renew Pods are now equipped with new “Renew Orbs,” which use Wi-Fi to track the proximity and speed of people walking past, as well as identify the maker of their smartphone.

The marketing company allows their clients to carry out their own surveys on the types of demographics that are in the area of the trash cans. This would allow them to work out the density of iPhone users for example, and if there’s enough of them to warrant an advertising campaign, it would be easy to use the trash can’s built-in LCD screens to do so.


While this kind of technology has potential, there is a catch: Pedestrians are unaware they are being tracked.

This presents a lot of problems when it comes to UK and EU privacy laws, which require notifying someone that they are being tracked, as well as being given the option to opt out. No personal data is collected as such, but it still draws a blurry line between what is and isn’t allowed.

If the technology is given the go-ahead, it would mean store owners could use the data to tune layouts, offer discount coupons, or reward frequent buyers in a very similar way that online retailers operate.


Renew Orbs


Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Brand Development Yesterday

Swipe Left On A Dating World Built To Keep You Single And Disconnected

Hinge's VP of Marketing Karen Fein tells us about the service's daring ditch of the swiping culture that's designed to attract advertising revenue, not meaningful connections

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Marvel Comic Tells The Story Of A Heroic Syrian Mother

Madaya Mom is the true tale of a family trapped inside a town for over a year


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Retail Yesterday

Brooklyn Cafe Lets Customers Pay By The Hour, Not By The Cup

Glasshour is an establishment that provides free coffee and pastries and charges for the time guests spend there

Technology Yesterday

Electric Spoon Changes The Way Food Tastes

The Taste Buddy is being developed to manipulate your taste buds and make everything more delicious

Related Expert

Vertti Kivi

Interior architect and industrial designer

Travel Yesterday

Bike Path In Poland Can Glow For 20 Years Using Solar Power

Cyclists can follow the shimmering blue lanes for better safety each time they ride

Technology Yesterday

Open-Source Toolkit Lets Communities Build Their Own Street Furniture

The Wikiblock database contains 30 blueprints of different neighborhood fixtures including benches, bus stops, and kiosks

Food Yesterday

Tiny Pub Only Has Space For Three People

Make Time For It is a small London pop-up bar that encourages conversation without the distraction of technology


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed october 20, 2016

Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Billie Whitehouse, Founder of Wearable Experiments, shares her new vision for the quantified self

PSFK Labs october 21, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Work Yesterday

Community Builder: How to Hack Slack

Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid, describes how she's using an internal team communication tool to build a network of thousands

Advertising Yesterday

This Beer Was Brewed Just For Scotch Drinkers

Highland Park Scotch Whisky & Sixpoint Brewery have teamed up to create two limited-edition pairings for New York City boilermakers

Mobile Yesterday

Let An AI Librarian Help Sort Your Digital Bookmarks

A new app uses machine learning to help organize your virtual life

Mobile Yesterday

Pizza Hut Tattoo Lets You Place An Order From Your Body

The latest gimmick from the fast-food chain is a tattoo-like sticker that lets customers get delivery with a simple tap on their arm

Travel Yesterday

Reinvented Bicycle Inspired By Supercar Design

The yellow bike based on a Lamborghini has sharp edges and an aluminum alloy frame

Health Yesterday

Health Platform Gives Perspective On Your Weekly Habits

Gyroscope is a new wellness app that works by amalgamating data about your life into beautifully designed visuals

Beauty Yesterday

Korean Beauty Brand Uses VR To Let Customers Pick Their Ingredients

Innisfree created a unique experience for its Shanghai Disneyland customers with a virtual reality trip to select what goes into their purchase

Arts & Culture Yesterday

3D-Printed Creations Resemble Floating Paper Outlines

Japanese design firm Nendo's exhibition features works that look like sheets of material being folded, torn, and crumpled

No search results found.