It had been a few years since I've worked there but the real problem was that all of this didn't work. All these promises to our clients that's you would get data equivalent of online shoppers, in store, but it simply wouldn't work. Guess people age, gender, previously seem face, tracking where they walked. All horribly inaccurate.
Though apparently it's an industry wide thing as "imputing" was common practice. Don't have the data? Make it up!
It does seem somewhat far-fetched otherwise.
Actually you end up with about 5% of your customer base properly tracked, and those people are already buying the most stuff anyway. I would bet that nailing the supply chain and focusing on your margin would be a better investment in most cases.
Another inhibitor of this technology is how cheap/behind retail companies tend to be.
We want advanced analytics.
Ok, we can set up these cameras and the like which will send everything to our servers for computation.
We only have dsl at the store.
Ok, then we need to set up a server(s) at the store.
We only want to spend 2k max per store, and use sub-sub-sub contractors to actually set up this equipment.
All of this pain and trouble scared me away from working with retail focused companies for past few years.
And in the physical retail world, collecting data comes at a cost (hardware, infrastructure, support). Often times, benefits don't outweigh that cost.
At minimum, what's the local network situation? Where are you storing and processing the take? Are you installing edge compute or transferring it out? If the later, what are your latency requirements?
I try and take a healthy dose of "maybe it's a harder problem than I thought" whenever something is valuable, looks easy, yet no one is doing it.
Shoplifting is an even worse excuse given that most retail theft is done by their employees and they seem to show no signs of trying to boost loyalty and engagement.
Sounds like a quite bad argument to me. Whether it makes sense to invest in this shoplifter-catcher technology is quite simple mathematics. If you prevent/catch enough shoplifters with it is worth the investment (doesn't matter if they are only the non-employee shoplifters). I'm pretty sure that shop owners can do that kind of investment decision pretty well, I highly doubt shop owners would be investing to these if it wasn't worth the hassle.
I'm not in retail, but what I've heard shoplifting can be huge hassle for shop owners. I also knew one kleptomaniac guy personally when I was younger and he stole shitloads of stuff and rarely got caught (according what he told me).
I considered contacting their CEO to say hey, for every guy like me who bothers to contact you, there may be others who just change stores and don't bother. In the end, I didn't bother either, I just shop somewhere else (its about 5 minutes further away but 15% or so cheaper overall... so I'm winning on two levels).
You'd have to be catching a hell of a lot of shoplifting to make up for even half a dozen lost regulars.
I bet they got sold it and aren't doing any kind of before and after analysis, not that I'd rise above the noise anyway.
Hopefully 99% of this stuff will die off when the bubble pops; I assume that even if it is profitable now, it won't be once retailers and other customers trim the fat during a recession.
A lot of shops require that a manager checks the employees' bags before they leave at the end of their shift to ensure that they haven't pilfered anything.
It can be as minor as giving an employee two cups for hot coffee or as serious as fraudulent receiving or running two cash tills.
Also, are infrared LED disguise devices easily defeated? E.g. can camera installers just add an additional infrared filter to their setup?
Systems also tend to use regular and infrared images for detection too (at least in the case of ALPR).
We need people to care about these things and how the data is used, we need laws for rules around collection, access, and rights. We need to work together towards maintaining the ideas that support western democracy rather than moving towards nationalism.
I worry that instability from climate change and the refugee crisis that comes from that instability will make things worse, along with the current centralization of wealth/inequality issues and rise of more populist right wing movements.
Individual technical solutions will likely not do much to protect you if we lose the cultural framework around democracy.
All I can think of is The Ministry of Silly Walks.
Also, such systems are primarily used by chain shops, and provided by specialized companies. Both mean the data gets shared to multiple entities.
“We got nothing via gait detection, but the intern noticed this guy walking around in an exoskeleton suit so we sent a unit out to bring him in”
The first thing I would do is gather a bunch of data for people walking trying to mess up their gait. Different types of shoes, pebbles in shoes etc. Then include that in the model or even just look for that as suspicious itself.
You're not giving enough credit to the capability of the people that do this kind of work. It is not simple to avoid and the vast majority of people would not even go this far.
How many people communicate entirely over encryption today?
not to be confused with galt detection, which tracks people who've read Atlas Shrugged and took its economic/political philosophy a little too seriously.
A relevant description I heard that I liked was that democracy is a boulder at the top of a hill that was pushed there by the deaths of millions, ready to roll down at any time. It takes work to keep things in that state and to protect it.
if they filter it out, they don't have their "night vision" any more.
(obviously twice as many cameras, or more expensive ones, or whatever, could deal with it.)
I think a much bigger problem with your technique though is... seriously who wears an infrared LED baseball cap? You would be very easily identifiable because that technique is likely to be nearly unique in your store; your attempt to mask your identity would have the opposite effect of drawing more attention to it.
Or at least be a good second feature.
Saturate the sensor in an environment that otherwise reflects little.
Even a small retro reflective logo can ruin a flash photo...
The idea that you will be watched and tracked your whole life so that a store can better advertise/set up the store is terrifying. Honestly how the hell can it be legal?
Yes - your smartphone camera already has one unless it's old and/or cheap.
Also, your LED baseball cap draws much more attention to you than anything else. That screams "look at me, I have something to hide". If you weren't on their radar before being seen in it, you almost certainly are afterwards.
That type of behavior can also trouble you in unrelated matters. EG, evidence of you wearing that to foil security cameras could be circumstantially presented to make you appear deceptive or conniving.
tldr; don't do anything to stand out if privacy is your goal.
Cellphones don’t and take good pictures in day or night conditions.
How exactly does that help?
The only respite we have is that all this data is discrete and spread among different actors, but we've already seen that the massive data collectors are just getting bigger and bigger, every new product is an avenue to collect another data set.
Snowden proves to us that our own government is spying on us as much as our enemies, yet the public outcry is more of a mass shrug.
Sadly, I feel more and more that we're at a point of no return; it's going to have to get way worse before it gets better. I'm hoping all it'll take to make our elected representative get off their asses and do something is when an indiscretion of a major political candidate is made public because of this level of data gathering. Because the people's interest in caring about their personal privacy ends at the point it hints at becoming an impediment to convenience.
As much as I hope this as well, I expect all that would happen as a result of this is further protection for candidates.
You just have to be willing to shoot yourself in the foot once or twice if you want to take a stance.
How? There are no political factions in the U.S. that would support such an agenda. Which party do you imagine taking up this issue?
I take your point, but I don't think it's the same thing. There was no vested commercial interest in maintaining the gay marriage ban and even then marriage equality was fiercely opposed and narrowly achieved and would be impossible to achieve today and into the foreseeable political future. It was also a no-brainer issue for Democrats that earned them a lot of support and did not conflict with Democratic donor interests. Marijuana is more complicated, especially if we are mindful of the fact that it is still a Schedule I drug (while e.g. cocaine, fentanyl and meth are Schedule II), but there was at least the gigantic bales of cash to create a clear incentive to drive legalization forward despite the fact that marijuana businesses are still being hamstrung by the banks and are under explicit threat by the attorney general. Still, marijuana is a very old issue with a clear binary choice that most of the citizenry is educated about...
Now, compare all that with a ratcheting up of privacy restrictions wherein the only possible outcome is the loss of billions of dollars in monetizable customer data and personal information, not to mention all the usual suspects that continuously endeavor to magnify the scope and breadth of the surveillance state for their own ends. Additionally, there is no clear binary choice like with marijuana and gay marriage; any viable solution will require an imperfect, nuanced, and somewhat technical approach to being solved and this type of solution is the hardest thing to do in our politics right now. There is no incentive for any faction to tamp down on data collection and the populace has given the signal that it doesn't really care about these issues (e.g. the equifax breach had no legal and minimal financial consequences for the company, and people have already forgotten). Additionally, there is also a sizable libertarian population among the technically literate that will oppose any kind of serious restrictions on data-collection because they are ideologically opposed to regulations. Imagine the furor on this forum if a presidential candidate seriously suggested something within the ballpark of EU style privacy laws - the entire front page would be flagged out of existence. Maybe I am pessimistic, but I just can't see a viable route to privacy restrictions.
edit: I just want to add: I'm not saying "no progress is possible forever, give up". I'm responding to the cavalier tone of your suggestion that "we can just make them stop". It's certainly possible, it's just very unlikely within the foreseeable future.
You could call it Cost of Living.
I'm not a lawyer, but this statement seems to be false according to this: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap2.html
I've resolved myself to the fact that I live in a surveillance world now. My goal is to limit the knowledge to as few companies as possible. What I'm not willing to do is to be annoyed whilst giving my information to stupid retail stores.
If using your data to get you to spend as much money as possible fits that definition, then sure. They're absolutely doing that.
And now all the security people are on the lookout for the person in strange makeup.
It's security robots I have a problem with.
Security and law enforcement is something you want to enable up to a point. Where that point lies is up to debate, but a different one. The topic here is fucking things up for advertisers. This I want to do indiscriminately. If they have to track me manually, that's a win too, because it's more expensive fro them.
They will get you somewhere.
Though just not going outside is not a solution, we definitely need legislation for this.
Cash is one of the last remaining bastions of true transactional privacy (and of course, with some legwork and a warrant, law enforcement can connect the dots).
This is is the same thing that tends to bother me about people worrying about hackers spying on them via built-in webcam. Unless there's a very specific reason for it, they simply don't need to. Tracking your data/activity/input is easier and much more valuable.
I'm not sure that's true -- cameras can track you around the store, seeing how long you linger at each product display, recording every time you reach out to touch a product. Which seems similar to the information online merchants can collect.
One thing they can collect in the store that they can't as easily track online (unless you're sending product links around) is who you are shopping with -- they can see that you come to the store with your friend, spouse, or children.
If you're in someone's house on their wifi network and they're shopping for socks... you might start seeing ads about socks. It's way easier to track this based on network information than creating facial recognition databases.
A lot of the "Facebook is listening to your conversation" fears stem from the fact that people don't realize that they can use data to make connections like this.
If you're remotely concerned about privacy, at the very least Facebook should not have an app on your phone (Google's doing it too).
Are you sure?
They can ask for your phone number at purchase or they can use your credit card number to link you to your online profile.
Eh... should I remind you about NSA, CIA, FBI? Do you seriously trust the government with this tech? And even if you did, how do you think you'll regulate something anyone can download for free and run on their $50 computer?
Of course I thought this movie looked 100 years in the future, not 15
Bob killed his neighbor. On camera, recorded for all to see.
Now you're saying we can continue letting Bob walk around, just because the camera will see it again?
I don't mean to be insulting, I don't get what you're trying to say.