Technology Jan 21

Customer marketing apps now part of stores’ Covid fightback 

Tech designed for tracking shoppers’ movements and sports data applications are being used to monitor their temperatures and monitor mask-wearing and sanitiser use as retailers strive to persuade people their shops are safe 

by Sean OMeara
Customer marketing apps now part of stores’ Covid fightback 
Retailers are desperate to create a safe environment and restore peace of mind for shoppers. Photo: Reuters

Devices designed for improving customer marketing and sports performance are now being used in the fight against Covid-19.

Hitachi-LG Data Storage originally developed its 3D LiDAR People Counter sensor for retail stores to track shoppers' movements and analyse data in order to improve sales and customer satisfaction.

The company, a joint venture between Japan's Hitachi and South Korea's LG Electronics, has now paired the application with a heat detection and camera app that takes customers' temperatures and checks if they are wearing a mask with a facial detection system.

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The technology monitors the number of people and their movements to reduce congestion and it estimates wait times at cash registers, to help reduce infection risks. It can also determine whether or not a customer has stopped by a specific area such as a required hand sanitiser station.

It comes as retailers seek to create a safe environment and restore peace of mind to the in-store experience as fears of infection have driven customers away during the pandemic.

"It was often used for marketing before but recently it has been used in various places for unmanned stores. Since the coronavirus the number of unmanned stores has increased quite a lot," Norimoto Ichikawa, head of Hitachi-LG Data Storage's software development team, said at the annual Wearables Expo in Tokyo.


Union Tool, exhibiting at the same trade show, said it was hoping to market its wearable heart sensor for applications including as a monitoring device for Covid-19 patients at quarantine hotels.

The sensor, which can remotely monitor a person's heart rate and temperature, is now used for health management and collection of biometric data for sports and exercise. 

Union Tool is teaming up with Toyobo for the sensor to be used with the latter's stretchable conductive film for wearable devices and used in clothing.

"If the number of patients increases in the future and more people will need to be quarantined at home or hotel, I think there's a possibility that such sensors can be used to remotely monitor people's condition in real time," said Naoki Jimbo, head of Union Tool's sales and marketing department.

  • Reuters

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