(NEW YORK) — It’s a dance many of us have experienced in the grocery store: You grab a package of cookies, weigh the consequences of eating them, hesitantly put them back on the shelf and slowly walk away.
The ritual may now be video-recorded for quality assurance, thanks to a new Mondelez International program called Smart Shelf. The program uses a Kinect, Microsoft’s motion-tracking and facial-recognition device, to track shoppers as they look at various Mondelez-associated brands, such as Triscuit, Ritz and Oreo.
“Our goal is to understand how shoppers see, scan, spot, show interest and select products from the shelf in the store,” said a spokeswoman for Mondelez. “We can also engage and influence the purchase decision by delivering a targeted shopper experience. For example, we can deliver audio or play a video based on demographics, distance and even the time of the day.”
Mondelez isn’t the first company to experiment with targeted advertising. The EyeSee Mannequin, released by Almax last year, used both cameras and microphones to track how people behaved in department stores. They were also capable of sending data to department stores and retail brands, similar to how Smart Shelf is capable of sending data back to Mondelez.
Richard Buino, another spokesman for Mondelez, said that a customer’s privacy is a big concern for the company, and that Smart Shelf would not infringe upon it.
“The technology looks at facial features to determine gender and approximate age, but it doesn’t save the images,” he told ABC News.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that Mondelez really needs to evaluate whether this type of commercial surveillance is worthwhile for its business.
“What need do they think they’re filling?” he said. “You have to do a whole lot to overcome this presumption that store tracking is acceptable. Good luck on that.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN