Taking your idea one step further, Jon, the response could be time-based. For example, if you are standing in front of a product for a certain period of time, it might be assumed that you are considering / comparing the product. Spitting out a discount on the one the store would prefer you buy could push you over the edge.
Hi, Greg. Stores can use near-field communications (NFCs) to communicate "coupon" information to a smart phone with NFC capabilities. By using a passive NFC "tag," a store could post discounts, special deals, and other information right by a product. A touch with a smart phone would transfer the information to the shopper's phone. Stores and VISA have started to install NFC devices for payments at point-of-sale terminals, so extending NFC to coupons wouldn't take much--probably an app for your favorite stores.
Affinity cards already track consumer information. Beware, though, I have heard some insurance companies want (or already have) access to shopping information. Thus they can assess risks by examining what insurance buyers purchase. If you go heavy on fatty or sweet foods, you might get a poor rating for life insurance. You never know the uses to which companies use, lease, or barter information they gather from you.
Other than the lost child capability that the article mentions, I'm afraid I don't see much use for this, either. A few years ago, there was a company called Applied Digital Solutions that was making security chips for tracking. As I recall, one of their big applications was in Central America, where kidnappings were commonplace. The technology described here would do some of the same things, but I don't know how big that market could possibly be.
Hi, Nadine. Thanks for your comments. I agree with you about tracking kids and gave more info in a reply to Beth. Back in the 1950's, the Museum of Natural History in New York City rented small radio receivers people could carry from exhibit. A short-range wireless transmitter gave a description of the nearby display. That was cool at the time and museums could use some sort of location-detection arrangement to provide similar information, perhaps via Bluetooth to a headset. But I don't think anyone would need to know an absolute location within the museum.
You have a good point about young shoppers who seem to travel with a cell phone attached to their heads. We'll just have to see how the position information applications shake out. For better, I hope.
Good point about tracking kids, Beth. There are some GPS kid-tracking watch-like modules available that report a child's position. When I researched this topic several years ago I found a company that has a tamper-proof watch that includes a panic button a kid could push in case of emergency. Wish I could remember the company's name.
How we choose to use it makes a positive or negative for society. Indoor tracking/navigation apps can be VERY useful for locating lost children as the article mentioned. It could be a great tool for musuems and historic sites.
Younger shoppers enjoy receiving information or deals on their smart phones. That's how they shop. Many retailers depend on impulse buys to stay in the black. For those with limitied mobility, having an app to turn on lights in the home could be life changing.
The evolution of these apps can be great if we (consumers) use common sense and they (corporations) just stick to "not being evil".
I'm with you, Jon. I'm not so sure we need any set of technology to track our every location. I like the idea of the indoor GPS for tracking kids' locations, though. I know they have cell phones, but I know my teens/tweens are notorious for not having their cells on when you need them to.
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