Mondelez International (the fine folks who pedal the Triscuit, Ritz, and Oreo brands) are about to launch a pilot test for a new “Smart Shelf” system. The program works by using Kinect for Windows sensors to track grocery shoppers, and then “engage and influence” them to purchase tasty Mondelez snack foods!
A Mondelez representative explained the dastardly marketing plan to ABC News, saying:
“Our goal is to understand how shoppers see, scan, spot, show interest and select products from the shelf in the store. 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.”
While Microsoft has no involvement in Mondelez’s Smart Shelf program, aside from providing the hardware, the news of the pilot comes just a few weeks after the company was reported to have stated that they would at some point provide advertisers with users’ Xbox One Kinect data. Microsoft later denied making those statements, and added that they have no current plans to “target ads or content based on any data Kinect collects, and [they] will not in the future unless someone chooses to allow [them] to do so.”
Regardless of whether or not any of these potential marketing plans ever materialize, it is clear that more than a few companies have been day dreaming about the possibilities. These potential uses for Kinect might not bother everyone, but I’m not comfortable with having Mondelez track me as I buy Oreos and then watch as I shove them into my face hole in my living room.
The good news is that Kinect is no longer a required part of the Xbox One experience. It is just too bad that it will soon become a required part of the grocery shopping experience.