(London Guardian) Walmart has patented surveillance technology that would allow it to spy on employees’ conversations with customers and use the audio to measure workplace performance.
The patent for “sound sensors” that could be installed at checkout is the latest example of controversial workplace surveillance technology and automated systems that purport to quantify and increase employees’ productivity. The filing comes at a time in which the US retail giant is facing growing competition from Amazon, which completed a $14bn acquisition of Whole Foods last year.
The patent filed this week described a system of sensors “distributed throughout at least a portion of a shopping facility”. Audio of both workers and customers could potentially be used to determine “if employees are performing their jobs efficiently and correctly” and aid in increased “cost savings” and “guest satisfaction”, the document said.