Walmart Wants To Use Facial Recognition To Identify Unhappy Shoppers
A new project would use cameras at the check-out counter to improve customer service
Walmart wants to turn your frown upside down. The company recently filed a patent for a technology it is developing that would be able to scan and identify the faces of unhappy or frustrated shoppers.
The technology would utilize cameras situated at the store’s checkout counters, tracking changes in facial expressions and movements to identify when a customer is unhappy. The system would then alert employees of the situation and instruct them to report to the checkout register to help the customer in need.
Aside from tracking customer behavior, the technology would also keep a record of customer spending behavior. Using biometric data collected from customers’ facial expressions, Walmart would link changes in mood to changes in spending. The company says in the patent that this would be an asset in helping to retain customers.
“It is easier to retain existing customers than acquire new ones through advertising,” the patent filing reads. “Often, if customer service is inadequate, this fact will not appear in data available to management until many customers have been lost. With so much competition, a customer will often simply go elsewhere rather than take the time to make a complaint.”
If a sharp drop in spending is recorded after a customer is seen with a negative facial expression, then the company would be able to better deal with the pain points that are driving away shoppers.
This is not Walmart’s first go-around with facial recognition. In 2015, the company used similar technology in an attempt to curtail theft by detecting shoplifters.
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Walter de Brouwer is the founder and CEO of Scanadu, a NASA Ames Research-based company with the mission of putting the diagnostic power of a hospital in the hands of the consumer, modeled after the fictional tricorder once imagined in Star Trek. Walter is a Belgian-born technology entrepreneur. He started Scanadu in 2010 after a life-altering family emergency. His goal is to build a suite of smartphone-esque medical tools that reimagine access to healthcare for the people. Prior to Scanadu, de Brouwer ran One Laptop Per Child Europe and founded Starlab. His companies were involved in two IPOs and the merger of Eunet with Qwest Communications (now CenturyLink).