If you've been feeling like you just don't have enough "smart" devices spying on you every day, I have great news. "Smart coolers" may be coming to a store near you.
Years ago, you would have sounded like a lunatic if you said that a refrigerator was watching you. But, like other new technology, yesterday's serious mental health symptom is today's reality.
Walgreens is piloting a new line of "smart coolers", which are refrigerators equipped with cameras that scan shoppers' faces and make inferences on their age and gender. On January 14, the company announced its first trial at a store in Chicago. The drugstore chain plans to put the coolers in stores in New York, Seattle, and San Francisco by the end of January.
Walgreens is getting paid to install smart coolers.
So far, 15 large advertisers have signed up to test the Cooler Screens platform, including Nestlé SA, MillerCoors LLC, and Conagra Brands Inc. While Cooler Screens is currently only in Walgreens stores, the company is looking to get their product in additional chains as well.
The technology embeds cameras, sensors, and digital screens in cooler doors, creating a network of "smart" displays that marketers intend to use to target ads to specific types of shoppers, explains The Wall Street Journal:
The refrigerator and freezer doors act as a digital merchandising platform that depicts the food and drinks inside in their best light, but also as an in-store billboard that can serve ads to consumers who approach, based on variables such as the approximate age the technology believes they are, their gender and the weather.
This new technology could provide brick-and-mortar stores with a marketplace similar to online advertising. Ice cream brands could duke it out to get the most prominent placement when it is 97 degrees outside; an older man could see ads for different products than a younger woman. (source)
Here's what the screens look like: