Most of us probably think that aside from the occasional wonky wheel, shopping carts are pretty good as-is. Put stuff in, wheel said stuff around. Done.
Walmart, however, seems hellbent on disrupting the shopping cart with all sorts of high-tech gew-gaws and gadgetry. CB Insights pointed out a new patent application from the retail giant to add a “System and Method For A Biometric Feedback Cart Handle” to its shopping carts.
When you grab hold of the cart, it reads your temperature, pulse, speed and force of grip. As you shop, the cart will monitor your biometrics. If your temperature shot up or down, the cart could call for a customer assistant to make sure you aren’t having a medical emergency. Or, the company could also tell if you are getting stressed out.
The company says it won’t keep any personal data, but as CB points out, anonymized aggregated data could be used to call out biometric trends, such as a group of agitated customers who may be getting into arguments — or maybe all get excited by the same Halloween display.
This patent filing follows one granted to Walmart earlier this year for a robot shopping cart, which could lead customers around the store, remote shopping and surveillance.
What’s funny is that at the same time, Walmart is working hard to negate the need for shopping carts at all. The retailer is testing in-store robot micro-fulfillment centers with expanded curbside pickup, and building out its own delivery network.
But people still like to shop for groceries in-store, so shopping carts aren’t going away any time soon. And who knows if these patents will ever cross over into real life. Perhaps Walmart could patent a mobile high-tech recliner next so people could nap while the robot cart drives around and monitors their sleep.