A company that tracks customers as they walk through retail stores reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission this week after it found itself in regulatory cross-hairs for reneging on its promise to notify customers in-store that they could opt out of the tracking.
Nomi Technologies (now known as Nomi Corporation after its merger with video intelligence company Brickstream in October) deploys sensors throughout a participating retail store or relies on existing Wi-Fi access points to collect the MAC addresses of all the smartphones in the area searching for a Wi-Fi signal. Nomi stores a “hashed” MAC address but keeps the hash unique to the phone so that if the customer returns to the store later, or visits another participating retail store, or even passes by a participating store, Nomi can track that device over time.
According to the FTC complaint (PDF), in addition to collecting the MAC address hash, Nomi can also determine the phone’s signal strength and the device manufacturer. It takes note of the phone’s proximity to a sensor and the date and time that the phone is observed, as well. Add that all up and you get a pretty clear picture of who your customers are and how they shop, something that brick-and-mortar shops are eager to learn with more precision as they compete with online retailers.
Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Leave a Reply