Print 8 comment(s) - last by lowsidex2.. on Oct 15 at 10:20 AM

The goal is to track the movement of shoppers in order to better understand shopping patterns, thus creating improved marketing campaigns

The tracking of user activity via smartphones is not too uncommon these days. Apple was caught tracking iPhone and iPad user locations via an OS X app, Microsoft was sued for allegedly tracking user locations without consent in WP7, and Google's Android mobile operating system has apps that track and share user info as well.

Now, an Australian shopping center in Queensland will obtain fit receivers that track shopper's locations within two meters by identifying unique mobile phone radio frequency codes.

The shopping center, which remains unknown for now until it makes a public announcement when the system is up and running, will get the fit receivers from a UK company called Path Intelligence. This new tracking operation is called the Footpath system.

The receivers are attached to walls inside the stores and throughout the shopping center, picking up mobile phone transmissions and feeding the data to computer servers via the Internet to help the shopping center understand customer patterns. This system is being put in place to help the Queensland center develop better marketing campaigns and better understand which stores customers prefer and what they look to shop for.

According to Kerry Baddeley, Path Intelligence national sales manager, the names or phone numbers of mobile users tracked will not be accessed through the Footpath system. It simply logs the movement of the phone.

While Baddeley argues that the Footpath system is less intrusive than some current methods, such as image-monitoring where a system can tell if a person is male or female and collects data such as how long they stop in front of a certain item, privacy advocates in Australia are questioning the Footpath system's intent.

Dr. Roger Clarke, an Australian Privacy Foundation chairman, is part of the category who thinks this new system and other retail tracking devices are "seriously creepy."

But Timothy Pilgrim, Federal Privacy Commissioner, said this new system shouldn't conflict with the Privacy Act as long as it doesn't collect the individual's personal information.


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By kleinma on 10/14/2011 10:17:26 AM , Rating: 5
So maybe instead of "airplane mode", phones need to rename that feature to "mall mode".

RE: hmmm
By Omega215D on 10/14/2011 11:34:29 AM , Rating: 3
Might be a bit off topic but Robert Galvin of Motorola has passed away recently.

Sadly, I'm not surprised that many tech sites didn't mention this or Dennis Ritchie.

RE: hmmm
By kleinma on 10/14/2011 11:40:10 AM , Rating: 2
Ars Technica did a short article on Ritche, but nothing anywhere close to the Steve Jobs coverage over the past week.

RE: hmmm
By Omega215D on 10/14/2011 11:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
Which is a shame because the two I listed above had impacted the things we take for granted today.

By mfenn on 10/14/2011 10:55:58 AM , Rating: 3
If you don't want to be tracked, turn off your high-powered RF beacon.

By AssSpelunker on 10/14/2011 11:59:56 AM , Rating: 2
So conceptually you will have greater anonymity while shopping online (most respectable retailers offer an opt out option when tracking views/purchases) than shopping at the mall

good and bad
By DrApop on 10/14/2011 1:12:06 PM , Rating: 2
I can see where tracking would be a city being able to track signals (not people) to assess traffic patterns and volume....or the number of people attending free city events to see if it is financially viable for the city.

But if companies can track you/signal without even going through the telecom...that is worrisome. And if they go through the telecom (for a fee), I want my cut too!

And I want to be able to turn off tracking/GPS but still be able to use my phone.

Things are seriously getting to be like "1984" out there as far as tracking....cell phone, cars (blackbox/onstar), etc. It is freaky.

Data overload
By lowsidex2 on 10/15/2011 10:20:00 AM , Rating: 2
When they get done they will have this mountain of data and no way to use it. With so many people shopping for so many reasons, if you plot the data it'll just be a mess. You'll need demographic data for this info to be relevant, IMO.

Want a marketing campaign to bring them in.. here it is:
"Our mall does not have Kiosks. Come walk out wide peaceful walkways!"

There, You're welcome.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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