Walmart has filed a patent for a shopping cart that monitors the biometric information of a customer through the handle.
The patent, published in August, is titled “System and Method for a Biometric Feedback Cart Handle,” and would see trolleys fitted with sensors which send data over the internet to Walmart’s servers.
According to Walmart in a disclosure related to the patent, the reason for this venture is to enable their staff identify customers who might require further help or customer service, based on the information collected from their shopping cart handle.
The sick and the elderly would especially benefit from this, the retail chain claimed in their patent filling, stating their store associates could offer assistance to help them navigate the store and collect their desired items.
How will this work? Well, a customer will walk into one of their stores, and selected one of the IoT-enabled shopping carts, which would “wake up” from a “sleep” state upon being moved. The cart would begin procedure to collect biometric data from the customer, via sensors embedded in the shopping cart handle.
This biometric data includes the customer’s heart rate, temperature, force of grip, and how much pressure the customer is exerting on the cart by either pushing or leaning on it.
The shopping cart transmits this data to a server, which stores and analyzes the biometric data. The server may be located within store, or in some remote location. The server can build a table of the data associated with the customer’s visit to the store.
The server can determine if the customer needs further attention, based on its permutations, and will send a message with necessary information to a store associate equipped with a beeper, mobile phone, tablet, handheld device or smart wearable, via an antenna or wireless router.
If the patent makes it to the real world, the whole concept raises certain privacy and ethical questions. According to Walmart, the system would not store any user data.