Snack food giant Mondelez is working on a new in-store display unit that will monitor shoppers as they go about the store.
In a story for the Wall Street Journal, Clint Boulton reports that the Oreos manufacturer is prototyping a so-called "smart shelf" that would include sensor technology to determine the age and gender of shoppers and whether they have picked a given product. Then, the shelf could show them a customized display advertisement based on their demographic characteristics or offer a coupon for a product they have picked up off the shelf.
Though this might sound a little creepy, Mondelez told Boulton that the smart shelf, slated to launch in 2015, would not be an invasion of privacy because the technology would not recognize individual faces or save photos, videos, or personal information.
The news represents the latest step toward the so-called Internet of Things, the idea that everyday objects will all one day be equipped with internet-communicative identifying technology.
Yesterday, the in-store retail tracking firm Nomi raised another $10 million to finance its expansion to businesses beyond retail. The company currently uses its technology to track how long and how often shoppers visit a given store, which mobile devices they're using while they do it, and whether a particular display window helped convince them to step inside.
The smart shelf is also the latest in a string of moves demonstrating Mondelez's ambitions to use new technology to reach consumers.
The company's most popular brand, Oreo, is known for crafting the real-time social media messages that culminated in the much-discussed "dunk in the dark" Super Bowl tweet, but Mondelez has also made investments in bringing its messages directly to the consumer via tracking technology and targeted advertising.
The company, whose other brands include Chips Ahoy!, Triscuit, and Trident, brought in nine startups earlier this year to create new mobile products, including one aimed at showing people ads for Stride gum as they drive past a location where the product is being sold.
B. Bonin Bough, the mobile advertising evangelist who heads Mondelez's consumer engagement efforts, has also said he'd like to use tracking technology to figure out when people are eating lunch so that he can send them push notifications reminding them to buy a stick of Trident gum after they finish eating.
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