US retail titan Walmart recently filed a patent application for a shopping trolley handle that can track the heart rate, temperature, stress level and other biological characteristics of shoppers as they grip the handle when moving around the supermarket. It represents one of the most direct forms of occupant tracking in the retail sector so far, sparking intrigue from the sector and outrage amongst privacy defence groups. For the retailer, there are clearly a host of benefits presented by gathering biometric data about shoppers as they move through the retail experience, but should technology be utilised when the objective is solely commercial and not at all related to the wellbeing of the individual being tracked? Understanding your customer is part and parcel of doing business, however, clear frameworks and guidelines must be drawn up setting out how monitoring intimate information is regulated.
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