Retailers install local company's camera system to track shopping behavior

SAN DIEGO - As you wrap up your holiday shopping, Team 10 has learned a local company's camera system may be tracking your shopping behavior.

At several major retailers, a new 3D camera system located in the ceiling is now in place at select aisles, tracking your every shopping move.

Joe Budano, CEO of locally-based Indyme, gave Team 10 a demonstration of his SmartSense system using a mock makeup aisle.

Cameras and infrared sensors display the image of a shopper in action, as data is recorded: what items are touched and for how long.

"It can also track which items I take and which items I put back and the order in which items are taken," said Budano.

In the world of market research, it is invaluable data for determining things like shelf placement, brand packaging and price points.  

"We're trying to determine the path to purchase to provide shoppers and offer shoppers a better selection," said Budano.

If a shopper appears confused – taking and putting back everything – a sales clerk can be sent to help.

The system can also help thwart shoplifters. Typically, a shopper will grab one of a few of the same items, but if the system detects the shopper is emptying the display, it will raise a red flag. The loss prevention staff can then be alerted.

"It's definitely too Big Brother," said shopper Betty Faucher.

Some shoppers 10News spoke with were not fans of the technology.

"I don't need a camera following me," said shopper Kirstine Schmidt. "It would make me feel insecure."

Budano said, "Shoppers shouldn't be concerned. It's quite anonymous."

He says right now retailers – worried about privacy issues – are not interested in demographics like sex and age, but admits the technology could be adapted to collect the information.

The shoppers are told there are cameras in the store, but not specifically that their trip down a test aisle is being monitored.

Budano says the system is now being tested in two major retailers around the country, including stores in San Diego. He declined to reveal which stores.

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