KTVU: High-tech store cameras read shoppers' moods
By Gasia Mikaelian
OAKLAND, Calif. — A number of Bay Area stores are using surveillance cameras that are so high tech, they can track some surprisingly personal information without shoppers ever knowing it.
The stores using the cameras insist they use the information to provide benefits to customers, but some argue those benefits come at too high a cost.
For years, San Francisco-based company 3VR marketed surveillance cameras for loss prevention and security purposes. But now 3VR is pairing those same cameras with facial recognition technology that allows retailers to identify and track each shopper.
Jeff Karnes, the senior vice president of marketing at 3VR, told KTVU the stores' goal is simple: to sell more.
Karnes wouldn't tell KTVU which stores or how many stores use the facial recognition technology. He would only say they're in big box and specialty retail stores.
The cameras are capable of identifying age, gender and a shopper's "mood" on a scale of 1-5. KTVU Channel 2 News anchor Gasia Mikaelian tested the technology. The cameras accurately captured her age as 39, identified her as a female, and read her mood as a 3 out of 5, or moderately happy.
The analytics can also show how often someone comes to the store and whether or not they buy anything. Karnes says with that information, stores can improve customer service and promotions, resulting in what he calls a "better experience" for shoppers.