The idea of "smart shopping" could soon be taking on a whole new meaning, thanks to a number of new experiments seeking to use artificial intelligence technology to enhance your shopping experience.
A.I. has been helping you shop online for more than a decade, and now it may start keeping an eye on you when you hit the stores in the real world as well. Of course, it's no secret that cameras of some sort have been watching us in retail stores for more than 50 years, just to make sure we're not taking things without paying. But now those cameras have gotten smarter, and they're being combined with A.I. technology to see what it is we're shopping for, and who we are.
One of the main goals is to eventually be able to show shoppers targeted, real-time advertisements, on video screens placed throughout stores. In theory, the screens would activate automatically when they identify a shopper - and their needs. For example, Mood Media recently showed off a so-called "smart shelf." It's aim is to detect if you're happy or sad when you see a specific product. Cineplex Digital Media is also experimenting with shopping screens. Theirs gets even more personal; it can tell if you have a beard or wear glasses - and then show you an add for razors or new frames.
But the biggest investor in A.I. shopping technology is America's biggest retailer, WalMart. They say their tests are geared around keeping an eye on inventory, not their customers. The technology is currently in the testing phase, being used to ensure the products you want are fresh when you reach for them on the shelf. The new system will also tell employees when to clean or re-stock the aisles. So the next time you’re shopping, don’t be surprised if you hear "Siri" calling for a cleanup on aisle 12.