IoT and retail tech pushes envelope in 2019: TECH(talk)


hey everyone welcome to Tech Talk I’m
Juliet Beauchamp and I am here with Jon Gold who is a senior writer at Network
world and we are going to be talking all things retail IOT so stay tuned so John
thank you so much for coming in thanks for having me so we’re gonna be
discussing a bit about retail IOT and when I heard retail IOT I didn’t think
about how you frame it I think more about smart home devices things that you
can go to any store you can go on Amazon and you can buy an IOT device from a
retailer but that’s not exactly how you’re framing retail IOT know I think
um you know at least in this context definitely as you said you know consumer
consumer type IOT is definitely what you know people think of when you talk about
IOT these days you know whether it’s like you know a remote door lock for
your house or you know something that you know you can where you can play with
you know your climate control from your phone but um yeah I would say the retail
sector is using it in a lot of less visible ways right now and I think they
will get more visible in the future yeah it’s really interesting how much IOT is
a part of our everyday lives in ways that we may not even realize as simple
as when you order something from Amazon you obviously know that a single person
isn’t going and picking I’m trying to think of what I recently ordered from
Amazon I recently ordered some lights so when I ordered my lights I pressed you
know place order I knew that some random person wasn’t going to the shelves and
picking out this specific box of lights and made sure that they were the yellow
gold ones cuz I hate white gold LED lights they are not pretty in my opinion
so I know that there wasn’t a physical person going and taking that but it’s
there’s so many layers to the devices that a big retailer like Amazon uses and
how they incorporate IOT it’s a pretty interesting oh yeah I mean you know when
you click that like you were talking about when you click that order button
you know you’re going through just you know an army of servers and robots and
warehouse technology and yeah which is why I was saying earlier that you know a
lot of what a lot of the IOT technology that goes into retail is you know
firmly on the back end it’s you know in you know these clever roboticized
you know warehouses that you know you know run hyper efficiently on and to be
clear I don’t fully understand you know how those work and I don’t think I do
not work for Amazon and then I don’t think they’ll tell me the secrets of
their their secret sauce so but we know that there’s a lot of these IOT
incorporated devices that these retailers are using what are some
examples like for example that Amazon what are some examples of devices that
Amazon is using oh well what they’re trialing right now and what I’ve
actually written about fairly recently is the Amazon ghost or concept yeah so
it’s a grocery store with no cashiers the the idea is that you scan in with
your phone like you have your own little unique ID on it and when you enter and a
really complicated system of cameras and what a couple experts I talked to think
are like weight sensors on shelves just automatically measuring what you you
know putting in your basket what you’ve bought and you know just adds up your
bill you just go in take stuff walk out and you know if something pops up on
your phone says hey you’ve just paid amazon $16 for whatever some granola
bars yes that’s it’s really cool and feels really futuristic it does it’s
probably not great news if you’re you know if you actually work in retail but
yeah it’s it’s a pretty impressive piece of technology what’s interesting too is
that since this feels so futuristic in foreign I wonder if there’s gonna be any
sort of backlash for this P becoming widespread um I could certainly see it
like I say you know not just from you know their people who used to have jobs
and that sort of industry now you know are getting replaced by robots and so
forth but yeah and I guess there’s probably something to the idea that it’s
you know an odd experience you just you know going in and taking stuff and you
know the sensation of a large machine watching you and it’s deciding what you
owe it yeah it almost there’s seems to be a lack of anonymity like there’s just
everything of that you’re doing everything that you’re buying every
movement in your in the store is tracked and that’s a little I don’t know to me
that’s a kind of a little creepy and I would
think that for other consumers it is – I couldn’t agree more actually and that’s
definitely something they’ll probably have to overcome if they can even if
they want to get you know broad acceptance here and yeah I mean the
whole thing about not being anonymous that’s you know that’s part and parcel
of this that’s how that whole you know type of technologies you know meant to
work you really won’t love the other type of retail technology that people
seem to be really interested in these days which is location-based advertising it’s great it’s I detected the specific
technology behind it will vary but it’s usually something like like a Bluetooth
Low Energy kind of like beacons it’s you know an
unobtrusively placed somewhere that well interact probably with your phone or
wearable device and say hey Juliet there’s you know a sale on
I don’t know granola bars down this down this aisle so you know yes oh I hate
that yeah another way for them to put more advertising in front of us it’s uh
yeah brave new world huh that’s something else because I mean there’s
already obviously targeted advertising that’s not exactly new and even somewhat
location-based advertising based rest based on your IP address like if I’m
here I get you know if I type in I want I need a haircut
I type in salons you know into Google and they’re gonna show me salons that
are around me if I go home they’re gonna show me salons that are near my home if
I go to Los Angeles they’re gonna show me salons in Los Angeles and similar
advertising so that is something that at this point I’m comfortable with and I
think that most consumers are it’s just if you want to get a haircut you’re
gonna have to you know learn to deal with that
so it’s kind of interesting yeah that’s oh I don’t really like that VTech yeah I
mean there it’s it definitely does feel different you know to you know if it’s
on the one hand them understanding where your IP address you know is fairly gross
you know not very granular level is kind of okay you know you get those funny ads
that say something like oh hey Summerville resident or whatever yeah
but yeah it’s definitely a bit different when it’s you know the phone that’s
right there on your person yeah and they’re in Aisle three in the granola
bars in Aisle five yes it’s um I yeah it’s a little off-putting I agree
yeah I think so this is something the sort of IOT technology is coming into
its own and has sort of sort of grow towards the tail end of last year and as
you predict is going to sort of become more widespread in 2019 what are your
thoughts about it um I think it’ll still be a you know a fairly slow evolution
2019 I think you’re gonna start seeing things like you know I mean Amazon’s
already got like the go store up and running in a few locations I think
mostly in Seattle and you know so you’ll start seeing you know more more pilot
programs more you know trial runs I I don’t think 2019 we’ll see a lot of you
know just really widespread uptake you know it’s not gonna you know these
technologies aren’t gonna become ubiquitous overnight or anything like
that but you know within the next 2-3 years maybe they could become a lot more
common yeah Wow yeah I kind of want to go to one of those Amazon go stores and
just sort of see what it’s like and like look it I don’t know if any of our
viewers have been to an Amazon go store I want to hear about it let us know
because that seems so creepy to me so did you like – do you feel that cameras
watching you I don’t know so I will say in fairness they in the the video the
little you know proof of concept video that amazon has they do make the food
look pretty good so so maybe it’s worth it possibly you know you give and you
take so what so is this sort of beacon technology that you’re talking about
before that like low the Bluetooth granola bars in Aisle five
is that has that really been rolled out I’m sorry if you already mentioned that
oh no um I don’t think it’s I think it you know it’s the same kind of thing I
think that probably you know some companies have a few stores where
they’re trying it out but I it’s it’s certainly not widespread yet no um and I
don’t think you know and for the reasons we outlined I don’t think it’s gonna be
you know something that people are gonna you know these businesses are gonna rush
to get out there just because you know people are gonna obviously get annoyed
at that I think but again you know 2019 you probably see a few more of them 2020
2021 if it turns out this is a concept that you know is
work and it doesn’t you know drive people to crazy then that’s when you’ll
probably see it’s even a little bit more widespread in what sort of IOT devices
are traditional retail or traditional you know brick-and-mortar retailers
using right now if any if they’re really anything that affects the consumer um I
would I wouldn’t say so I say most of you know the you know big commonplace
IOT texts that are being used are kind of you know are you have to do more with
the supply chain and all that sort of thing but you know advice the probably
they are you know improved device security and you know just looking for
inventory you can track of stuff like that um that’s you know that’s a
possibility certainly but it’s yeah I mean IOT and sort of the front of the
store and a brick-and-mortar is not you know a super common thing I would say
yeah because I mean to me it makes sense for a retailers to be using just as any
other business would be using services and then a and you know that’s also
there’s also the point to be made there that you know larger you know larger
maybe not necessarily like I’m a little mom-and-pop store but like larger
retailers will use IOT in the way that you know other large businesses will you
know if it’s just you know having you know building management stuff security
you know having the HVAC you know hooked up to an IOT hub right um yeah that’s
just that’s a sort of general enterprise IOT and you briefly mentioned using IOT
devices to sort of track inventory is that something that retailers use now
yeah it’s you know it’s the same sort of principle as you know just the the
little metal guys you’d find in books before you bought them free no from the
bookstore yeah as people used to do but yes similar kinds of you know just um
you know asset tracking technology and you know I think you’re probably just
going to see them in you know new and different you know types of goods yeah
and those are things that are helpful to the consumer because if I want to know
if target is in stock of Bounty paper towels I want to be able to see like how
many the target near me has and if I can go pick it up right then there
that’s nice and that’s convenient to the consumer so not all IOT technology needs
to feel scary no absolutely and that’s and that’s a great idea actually just
being able to yeah having that kind of visibility into the stocks and so forth
but um yeah I would really like that as a consumer so in your 2019 predictions
article John wrote an article for Network world that will also reference
and link that you could so you can see it is a really funny sort of something
about Walmart using like biometrics they tell me about this this is fascinating
to be I I’m gonna disappoint you slightly because I actually didn’t
wasn’t able to find out a huge amount about this just because it’s you know
it’s a pilot program it’s you know something they’re just kind of toying
with but yeah it’s a biometric system with the biometric system that you know
when you have your hands on the shopping cart will read your vital signs and
presumably track you through the store so what are we talking about with these
things not being creepy yeah I think I can’t imagine like pushing a shopping
cart in it telling me my heart rate see that never seems to work for me when
it’s on treadmills at the gym yeah I honestly don’t get it it’s it seems like
you know oh your vital signs are kind of crappy move steer you towards I don’t
know some healthier diet choices or something oh that would be so creepy
yeah I’m also a little high-handed I think let me live my life that would
actually be really really oh that’s like really scary oh I don’t like that at all
retailers are just desperate to learn as much as possible about us you know
shopping you know shopping online they have you know all sorts of built-in
tools to learn you know everything they need to know about you know you know
your demographic info and so you know real-world retailers are just you know
they want that same kind of advantage and you know IOT tech is one of the ways
I think they’re going about it so yeah Wow that’ll be really interesting to see
what sort of rolls out in 2019 it’s I think that there’s obviously not all I
think the message that I we do want to send is not all IOT
needs to feel creepy and bad but it’s it’ll be an interesting sort of debate
and I’m sure people will be talking about it if there are these sort of
devices that are that feel like they’re invading customers privacy absolutely um
like I you know I’m sure you can probably tell from the you know the tone
of the conversation which you know end of the spectrum I fall towards but yeah
you know and it’s certainly an issue that’s worth keeping an eye on as the
technology advances as things become you know a little bit more widely
distributed yeah sure it’s something to keep an eye on and I think it’ll be also
interesting to see how customers privacy rights how how customer privacy rights
especially in the u.s. become for more protected as there’s more backlash
especially with the II use GDP are like that’s they’re really settling into
protecting citizens privacy and how and the difference I mean we don’t have that
in the US and maybe if further laws protecting consumer privacy if that will
affect this sort of data mining by companies because it you don’t realize
how frequently big companies are just learning everything about you yeah I
mean you can be aware of it too you know and you know with people sort of in
technology I suppose we’re you know arguably better informed about it than
you know a lot of a lot of people actually it does sort of you know like I
was talking about it sort of underlines the fact that you know the you know
extent to which you know these companies can delve into you know your personal
information and you know like I say the fact that you know brick-and-mortar
retailers or you know just I would you know gung-ho for catching up it’s it
seems like yeah it definitely seems like some kind of legislation you know might
be a good idea in the future just because yeah you know the mark the reach
of marketing companies into our into our data is getting a little scary and you
mentioned and you mentioned brick-and-mortar stores sort of trying
to play catch-up do you think that the use of these devices is in response to
the huge online marketplace or do you think it’s just it just is just because
technology has advanced and they would have done it anyway
I’ll split the difference honestly I think it’s a combination that you know
they’re probably taking a bath you know next to you know online retailers like
Amazon and also that you know it’s actually the technology for you know
very small computing devices is actually advanced to the point where you know if
some of these things may cost you know make sense from a cost-benefit point of
view yeah and I guess you know without we wouldn’t have these advances in
technology without also having a growing online marketplace you know all sitting
it’s all advances in technology very true that’s really interests you so much
John this was bent has been enlightening and informing there is so much more to
IOT retail than those doorbells that show you who is at your house and you
can unlock your door for them thank you again for joining us John
really appreciate it and thank you to all of you for watching Tech Talk be
sure to subscribe to the Tech Talk YouTube channel like this video if you
enjoyed it or if you think that IOT devices in retail scope stores could
feel a little bit creepy and be sure to subscribe to our channel we’ll be here
every Tuesday Thursday and Friday talking all things tech thanks so much
for watching and we’ll see you later

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