Short Takes: Euclid Elements Has All Eyes on You

The cell phone might just become the human cookie.

Startup Euclid Elements plans to use the signals on consumers’ smartphones to monitor how they browse inside and outside of retail outlets. It would seem a tactic ripe for privacy outrage, but Euclid claims not to collect personally identifiable information like the smartphone owner’s name or unique numerical device identifier analyzes fairly intimate information. That info includes how long consumers stand outside a store window, which aisles they walk through in the store and at which display they pause next to. The results are then fed into a dashboard where retailers can review, after a 12-hour delay, a detailed analysis of the traffic inside and near their establishment.

Whether this will fly with consumers remains to be seen. But Euclid officials claim that retailers are already clamoring to try it out.

“To put it simply, we’re Google Analytics for the physical world,” said co-founder and CEO Will Smith. “Online retailers have been using data to improve their customers’ shopping experience for years. With Euclid, major retailers and downtown storefronts are now able to leverage in-store customer data to better compete with the online world through improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.”

The technology might raise the hackles of privacy advocates, especially with regards to consumers pausing outside store windows. And smartphone tracking is a notoriously murky area, one that has impacted giants like Apple in the past. Although the company says that stores will offer consumers the chance to opt out, there’s no guarantee that consumers outside will be able or willing to follow an opt-out process in order to evade being monitored.

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