Philips to track window shoppers

Published on: 2015-02-05

Shopper Culture picked up this interesting bit from Philips's ShopLab:

ShopLab, Philips’ Research and Development Unit, has recently patented a Window Shopper Gaze Tracking System. It is a system that tracks the eye patterns of window shoppers, allowing stores to see what the shoppers see, and follow their gaze.

The system, which utilizes several video cameras and eye tracking software, allows for stores to track the interests of shoppers before they even enter the store. It can then identify which item the shopper is staring at the longest and possibly post additional information regarding the item on a screen (could be interactive) above or around the display.

Our take:

Gaze tracking is of course nothing new.  In fact, it has been in the press quite a bit recently, especially with TruMedia -- one of the pioneers in the industry -- catching some flak from the New York Times for their involvement with billboards that "watch back." While there are still plenty of people around who are less than thrilled with the prospect of hundreds of advertisers watching them as they make their way about the world, the reality is that as long as such solutions aren't illegal and generate more value (probably in the form of additional marketing data) than they take away (probably in the form of angry or upset shoppers), they will continue to become more commonplace.

However, what strikes us as unique about Philips's project is that it's inside the store looking out.  Most of the time, these kinds of systems are looking in, trying to figure out what shoppers are doing in the store. Whether or not the Philips system could provide useful data or be used in conjunction with some kind of active marketing medium like outward-facing digital signs or through-glass touchscreens to be truly useful remains to be seen.  Again, there have been plenty of technology demos and cool one-off marketing projects that utilize these systems, but given their cost, complexity and uncertain returns, they've yet to gain a significant place in the market.

Subscribe to the Digital Signage Insider RSS feed

Looking for more articles and research? Our newest articles can always be found at Digital Signage Insider, but there are hundreds of additional research articles in our historical articles archive.

You may also be interested in M2M Insider: our blog about M2M and the Internet of Things.