The Surveillance Market is set to invade your local quick-stop, grocer, or ice house.
A new digital door technology from a company called Cooler Screens is now being tested in Walgreens, and it sounds absolutely awful. Rather than a basic, transparent glass door, coolers and freezers will be sealed by screens that show a sanitized image of the products behind them. Supposedly, these screens will:
- Save energy
- Help monitor inventory
- Help customers with poor eyesight
- Make products more visually appealing
That’s all nice enough, and those mild benefits might even be worth replacing a simple glass pane with a complex TV screen. However, further reading ultimately makes those benefits sound like nothing so much as an after-the-fact justification for the real motives behind this technology:
Flashing banner ads float between the digital rows of goods…in addition to the flashy ads and “smart” merchandising, these screens are equipped with sensors and cameras designed to watch and profile the appearance and actions of customers who find themselves in their path, like me. Approximate age and gender. How long my gaze lingers on the bottles of tea.
And they don’t even hide the fact that they’re watching you! Zuboff is right when she says the corporate desire for behavioral data is insatiable.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think having Big Brother determine whether I’m buying milk, soda pop, or a cold beer is any of their business. I won’t patronize Cool Screeners.
Be a dirty shame if someone banged a shopping cart into these screens and disabled them (hey, it happens to smartphones all the time).
Tip from Stephen Green writing at the Instapundit.