We have smartphones, smart watches, smart cars, and now a smart shelf. Grocery stores are already designed by behavioral psychologists as a labyrinth to ensure you can’t get out without spending some money. The layouts of grocery stores are not an accident as almost everyone will turn right upon entering and bright sugary snacks marketed to kids are at their eye level on shelves, whereas products more appealing to adults are a bit higher. A smart shelf seeks to take this consumer psychology to the next level, adding facial recognition technology to target advertisements for you individually. This smart shelf will be introduced in 2015 and will be able to identify an item picked off the shelf by its weight, and then offer a coupon to entice you to purchase the product.
The public is being assured the system will not collect personal data, identify shoppers’ facial features, or capture images of shoppers, much to the NSA’s chagrin. Being able to collect and retain this information would be a powerful tool. Stores would be able to create a database of your individual buying behavior, then email you your monthly shopping list with a set of coupons. If you go to leave the store without picking up an item you typically purchase, you may get a notification in the store or sent to your smartphone saying, “hey, don’t forget the milk!”