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Surveillance Cameras Used To Study Customer Behavior 126

An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review reports on a startup with software used by stores to track, count and log people captured by security cameras. Prism Skylab's technology can produce heatmaps showing where people went and produce other statistics that the company claims offer tracking and analytics like those used online for the real world. One use case is for businesses to correlate online promotions and deals — such as Groupon offers — with real world footfall and in-store behavior."
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Surveillance Cameras Used To Study Customer Behavior

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  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:07PM (#38879585)

    its not IF but WHEN.

    everyone who has an interest in 'tracking' will want to be able to ID people and know where they are.

    govs want this, businesses want this, 'law' enforcement wants this.

    the only people who don't are the people; and they have no power anymore in the western (or eastern!) countries.

    its been said each generation, but its true here: I fear or the world our kids are going to inherit. it does not sound at all like a world I want want. I can see where things are going. Do Not Want.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:18PM (#38879725)

    Football? What?, oh wait, misread. Someone tell me I'm not alone in that error.

    At the end of the day does this yield better results than counting sales at the close of business?
    More complicated results, perhaps, but after analyzing traffic patterns all day long studying dwell time at displays, does it really yield anything useful that the store owner can actually act upon, re-arranging the displays, etc?

    And if they do act on the data, it will almost certainly be to benefit one product area vs another. Will there be any net gain for the store as a whole?

    Won't wholesalers with clout demand the data and push hard for the best locations or shelving decisions? If you have data, you are going to be forced to share it sooner or later, and when everyone is rushing past the Laptop counters to get to the TV display area, is there anything short of re-arranging the store you can do about it? Won't Dell, HP, and Apple, insist on being on the high traffic routes? Didn't the store owner just lose control?

    And at the end of the day, is it different in any way from just tallying sales ?

  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:24PM (#38879785)
    It seems to me that a lot of people who have studied image processing/video processing cannot come up with a benevolent/non-malignant use of their skills that also generates an income they can live on, and wind up building some computer vision algorithm or software that tracks/identifies/spies on people for profit instead. There are so many positive things that can be done with image processing, like - to name just one example - upgrading/restoring 1000s of hours of old archive footage to 21st Century clarity/sharpness. Or, for example, sifting through medical imagery and looking for signs of disease/tumors/tissue anomalies. Or converting 2D content to Stereoscopic 3D content. Instead of doing that, and similar, some cretins choose to build one digital surveillance/biometric ID system after another, for quick profit, and the whole world suffers the loss of regular, everyday privacy these systems cause. This sort of stuff should be banned from Public Spaces. It doesn't help Joe/Jane Ordinary live better. It just gives companies - including bricks and mortar companies now - fancy new tools to spy on their customers. It used to be that staying away from Facebook and similar privacy destroyers gave you some tangible privacy. Now, with the help of intelligent computer vision software peering through dumb surveillance cameras, every public location/shopping space becomes another Facebook that wants to track & surveil you. And this time you can't opt out at all! Again, this stuff should be banned for the good of everyone.
  • As a marketer... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Picardo85 ( 1408929 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @02:40PM (#38879981)
    As a marketer I can tell you that we have been doing this in one way or the other for the last 50 years or so ... the only thing interesting here is that they're doing it with more advanced algorithms. This is stuff we had in the basic course of consumer behavior. The only real difference is that today you OFTEN do these studies in person instead of having computers to do it for you. Results and findings will most probably be the same from this as it is from regular observation studies.

    Besides, when doing observation studies the point is not to disturb consumers so they are usually done from a surveillance room or such to monitor consumers movements. Marketers are very seldom interested in individual interactions but when consumers do stand out from the norm it's good to have the possibility to interact with said consumer.

    I see this as a possible solution for very large shopping centers and their likes but I don't think there's anything special about this thing in particular.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.