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Walmart Wants To Put Sensors On Everything So It Can Automatically Order You Stuff (theverge.com) 106

According to a recently published patent spotted by CB Insights, Walmart "describes a system of connected sensors that could monitor customers' product consumption," reports The Verge. "The sensors would be attached to products and rely on a variety of technology, like radio frequencies, Bluetooth, conventional barcodes, and RFID tags." From the report: Walmart doesn't suggest that any one sensor type would work best; rather, it lays out its options. Apparently it has a lot of ideas: these tags would all track how often a product is used and where it's located in a home. They could also help Walmart figure out what other products it could market to users based off their purchases. A tag reader installed on a fridge, for example, could scan every item that goes inside. This reader could then track when food is going bad or needs to be reordered. On the other hand, an RFID system could figure out when a person is picking up their toothbrush and use that information to estimate how much toothpaste is left. It could then be automatically reordered.
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Walmart Wants To Put Sensors On Everything So It Can Automatically Order You Stuff

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  • Short version... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:21PM (#54364249)
    Uh, no.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:28PM (#54364283)

    I mean, if im out of something, maybe i don't want more of it. And when I want more of something I'm somewhat brand and price sensitive -- i'll buy whichever of 2 preferred brands of yogurt is cheaper a given week, i might try a new brand if it is on sale, and 4th brand i wouldn't take if they were paying me.

    And while I have favorite flavors sometimes i mix it up; or i'll buy 2 flavors of the smaller containers if they're on sale or 1 bigger container if that's the better deal...

    And if I'm going on vacation in a couple weeks, i want to start winding my fridge down -- so I won't buy replacement yogurt until i get back.

    And that's just yogurt. I do that for everything... don't most people? who just wants the same shit in their fridge all the time, rain or shine, whether they are home or not...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No. Most sheeple buy whatever TV tells them to buy especially if it's positioned at eye level. They don't compare brands each week. Most don't even check that they're buying the carton of milk with the furthest-out expiry date. While they are idiots, their actions make the world a better place for savvy consumers like us.

      • by chihowa ( 366380 )

        Most don't even check that they're buying the carton of milk with the furthest-out expiry date.

        I finish the carton of milk well in advance of the shortest expiry date I've ever seen on the shelf. Not wasting my time digging through cartons of milk and getting the fuck out of the grocery store is worth way more to me than finding a carton that expires two weeks and a day after I finish it instead of two weeks after I finish it.

        Shopping for the furthest-out expiry date seems less about being a "savvy consumer" (ick!) and more about being neurotic.

        I will check for broken eggs, though, but that only take

      • by Miser ( 36591 )

        Hell I never take whats up front as far as milk goes. I will CLIMB INTO the cooler and find the milk with the longest expiry.

        -Miser

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This looks like a copycat version of Amazon's buttons to reorder crap for you.

      I don't really want those, either.

      • This looks like a copycat version of Amazon's buttons to reorder crap for you.

        Exactly, and why not? There are plenty of commodity products that I automatically want to get every time I go to Walmart (yes, Walmart!). Having the ability to automatically order toilet paper, cat food and coffee would be a real convenience.

    • who just wants the same shit in their fridge all the time, rain or shine, whether they are home or not...

      Sadly, a shit ton of people do.
      They're generally called "Average Joe".

      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        That's the thing, I know I'm not average joe when it comes to tech, but I think im pretty much as 'average joe' when it comes to groceries. I have mental meal plan, and a sense of the budget, and then i start shopping... i stock up on things that are on sale, i alter the meal plan based on what's there. Some meals more planned others are more spontaneous... i was planning burgers for friday, but ribs are on a great sale, so I switch.

        I usually buy blackforest deli ham for ham sandwhiches but this week rosema

        • Dunno about that, depends on culture I guess. Where i'm from, people are more traditional and stick to a brand forever, which is stupid but that's how people are.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, our brainwashing, I mean advertising won't be able to indoctrinate, er, sorry, convince everyone, but we'll get a large enough percentage of the sheep, rather, people.

    • I mean, if im out of something, maybe i don't want more of it...

      Why, yes... yes, you DO want more of it. You just don't realize it yet. But don't worry, advertisers will make sure get with the program.

      And when I want more of something I'm somewhat brand and price sensitive -- i'll buy whichever of 2 preferred brands of yogurt is cheaper a given week, i might try a new brand if it is on sale, and 4th brand i wouldn't take if they were paying me.

      With the breadth and depth of data being gathered about you, it won't take them long to figure that out, then create custom orders and custom pricing tailored to your needs and preferences.

      And while I have favorite flavors sometimes i mix it up; or i'll buy 2 flavors of the smaller containers if they're on sale or 1 bigger container if that's the better deal...

      They probably haven't figured that out, but give it time. And their supply chain management, coupled with automated drone / driverless vehicle delivery, will give them lots of flexibilit

    • I mean, if im out of something, maybe i don't want more of it.

      Incorrect, meatbag. Our AI is infallible and knows what you want/need better than your own subconscious.

      Kind regards,
      BotsInc.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:29PM (#54364289)

    ... 93 Escort Wagon begins putting all purchases in the microwave for a few seconds the moment he brings them home.

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:34PM (#54364319) Journal
    Walmart:

    We want to track EVERYTHING YOU DO IN YOUR HOME

    Memo to Walmart: Go to hell!!!

    I do not shop at Walmart, ever, for a variety of reasons. Even suggesting such a thing ensures that I will never set foot in a Walmart, EVER. Seriously, who the hell do they think they are!?

    • I have shopped there 5 times in the last 5 years.
      Once was for flip flops, and the person that I was with (and who was driving) drove there and I wanted to be polite.
      Once was for a particular brand of coloring pens (and they were the *only* ones in my area to carry them).
      Once was for a gift card (recipient specifically requested Walmart gift card for birthday present)
      the other 2 times was because they were literally my only choice in the geo I was in, within transportation/time limits.

      I hate that company, I

      • I have a similar disdain for Wal-Mart. I have not entered the store willingly in a very long time. The last time I went to Wal-Mart willingly was when I was in college and had to buy some stuff for my apartment. I didn't know the difference between Wal-Mart and the other stores yet. I figured that out when I bought a plastic waste basket that stunk up my apartment. After I discovered Target, Sears, JC Penney, Best Buy, and so on I went back only when taken there by someone else, they were the only stor

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Seriously, who the hell do they think they are!?

      They think they're a retailer, and today, people want their retailers to know everything about them, and sell them things without having to think. Have you heard of a little company called "Amazon" that does exactly that?
  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:34PM (#54364323)

    How much discount do you get from them gathering information? And if the price increases does it automatically reorder? Is that increase just for you (a la amazon) or for everyone? Does it automatically price compare? Lots of fails here...

    • by Miser ( 36591 )

      YES YES YES. For you to mine my purchase data (that I will also most likely poison with strange purchases) I want no less than 75% off CURRENT prices. If I could cut 3/4 off my grocery bill, you can have my data. As I mentioned above it will be poisoned sufficiently that you won't be able to garner habits from it anyway.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @05:41PM (#54364373)

    This kind of invasive bullshit will be welcomed by the young, ignorant generation who fucking love [latest hipster tech], and will ignore anything Common F. Sense might have to say about privacy.

    Those who ignorantly dismiss an Orwellian prediction are doomed to create it.

    • I am reminded of a story I heard years ago (which may or may not be true) about a Russian woman who received a letter in the mail from a tampon manufacturer (retail store, maybe?) concerned that her tampon purchasing had increased of late, and how they were expressing concern about her health. According to the story there was quite a controversy about this invasion of this Russian womans' privacy. You speak of the young-and-dumb welcoming such technological invasion of their privacy (privacy that they appar
      • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @06:18PM (#54364589)

        I am reminded of a story I heard years ago [...]

        The American version is true and a textbook marketing example: Target mails a baby ad to a teenage girl. Father is furious to find ad in mailbox, goes to local Target store and screams at the manager. A few days later the father came back and apologized to the manager, as his daughter was pregnant and she had bought a pregency test kit at Target.

      • You speak of the young-and-dumb welcoming such technological invasion of their privacy (privacy that they apparently don't value at all, thanks so much to social medias' indoctrination)

        A common meme, but I'm not so sure it's true. Yeah, early Millenials shared friggin' everything. They came to regret it. Late Millenials and the generation after them that hasn't grown up yet (or all been born yet) are considerably less forthcoming. Every kid I know puts a piece of tape over their laptop's built-in camera. Many of them have multiple social media accounts on the same service, and segregate who is connected to which account. Mom and Dad get to see the Family account and don't even know

  • It says this was being done to reduce employee shrinkage, customer shrinkage, and lastly talked about tracking for reordering.

    But, hey, it's not like we believe you.

    You do know Google allows us to translate from the original Chinese text, right, Wal*Mart?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Apparently this technology has already been deployed without our knowledge.

      Customer shrinkage? I WAS IN THE POOL! I WAS IN THE POOL!

  • This reader could then track when food is going bad or needs to be reordered.

    Other than "expiration" or "sell by" date, how would an tag or RFID sensor/reader track when something is going bad? Those dates are almost always very conservative and relying solely on them would lead to a LOT of food waste.

    As for "or needs to be reordered", how would it know when to do that? For example, how would the system know how much (say) milk was left in the container? I know I don't always pour an exact cup every time I pull the container.

  • How long before some bright spark starts up WallyWorld Whacker, The WallyWorld Sensor Detector and Annihilator. Step right up folks, don't let WallyWorld lead you buy the nose. Buy this handy detector which will ferret out WallyWorlds sensors. Touch the sensor to the PowerDot in the center of the Destructo-Wand and knacker that sensor until you hear its death throes. Disposal of sensor can be done at your convenience.

  • I'm no fan of Walmart. And not to side with the retailers, but––

    Most stores already have RFID chips added to the packaging for theft prevention.

    There are already stores where you walk in, pick up a cart and scanner, and scan each item as you put it in the cart. Then you walk through the checkout line and tap your credit card and you're out of the store in a minute.

    I can also see it being a big win for commercial purchasers. Office managers that want coffee K-Cup and PostIt Note refills to arrive

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday May 05, 2017 @06:17PM (#54364579)

    My friends, please don't lose sight of the fact that we're talking here about Walmart, the company that has raised corporate welfare to the status of "Art", and the people who shop there.

    This isn't much different from a farmer chipping his cattle.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Friday May 05, 2017 @09:45PM (#54365487)
    It's a wonderful technology but how in the world could it be contained? The IRS would love to track spending of people as sometimes they spend a lot more than they claim they earn. Health insurance companies would crave that data as would life insurance companies. And a man might have real problem explaining to his wife why he buys condoms when he never uses them at home. Law enforcement might take a keen interest in the amount of alcohol you use and compare that to your gasoline purchases. And your doctor or hospital might want a hard look at your food buying habits as well. So what percentage of the public wants to be that transparent?
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      So what percentage of the public wants to be that transparent?

      What percentage buys shit from Amazon now?
  • There is just one special magic feature which should be added to a kitchen computer: a noncontact bar code scanner. That is enough to reorder products. If you notice something is getting low, or you run out, then you scan it to add it to a queue for review. Then you review the queue and hit "order" and bingo, Amazon sends it to your house. It's not like you would actually get it from Wal-Mart, would you?

  • Yet another reason not to trade there.

  • I would rather die.
  • If you purchase anonymously with cash, there's no data to track.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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