Buried in a Microsoft blog post Monday was one interesting tidbit: The company describes how it could use its Kinect hardware to help retailers recognise shoppers and offer them a tailored shopping experience.
Kinect is a motion controller accessory for the Xbox.
The blog post detailed a series of ways Microsoft could help retailers create more modern shopping experiences for customers.
Here’s the bit on Kinect being used for shopping:
The NEC Biometric interface with Kinect Camera system provides demographic and face recognition services to a Kinect enabled application. Retailers can use this information for analysis and for providing the customer with a more personal selling experience. MediaCart will change the shopping cart as we know it. Adding a location-aware tablet to the cart allows a retailer to present a personal and relevant shopping experience to its customer. This allows context sensitive ads and promotions when in front of various products along with a barcode scanning capability for price lookups and basket totals.
In other words, Microsoft says retailers can connect the Kinect hardware, which would identify customers, to an “enabled application” that would be able to analyse the customer — perhaps taking note of how many times a customer has entered the store in a given week, or month, or year.
Armed with that information, retailers could make decisions about what they’re selling, or tailor unique shopping experiences to each customer. So, for example, if a retail chain knows a customer has already purchased some items, the Kinect-enabled application could send a mini alert that the store is getting a repeat customer, and then offer guidance to store employees to help that customer find items they might like but don’t already own.
Kinect in retail might be a bit creepy, but it sounds ultimately useful for both merchants and consumers alike — it would save both sides a lot of time in terms of trying to find something to buy.
It would be even more interesting if Microsoft could let various Kinect systems “communicate” with one another. So if you already own a Kinect in your home, as part of the Xbox console, you have already built up a “profile” of games, movies, music, and apps you like. (The Kinect can already identify you when you turn on the console, loading your profile without any manual input.) Then, when you later visit a retail store, that store’s Kinect could identify you, access your profile that was started by another Kinect, and then give you even more specific recommendations — or better yet, some store discounts.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft to learn more about how the company plans to deploy Kinect in retail.