Walgreens cameras want to guess your age, gender to deliver in-store ads

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WOODBURY -

When you pick up your favorite beverage or food items, a camera could soon be watching you as part of a new "smart shelf" technology that wants to know more about consumers and their buying habits.

Some drugstores like Walgreens have installed cooler doors with cameras. The cameras will try to guess your age and gender and recognize features. They'll then use that information to send you real-time, targeted advertisements.

"The secret sauce here is not just the camera, but then a screen that can work with the camera," says tech expert Lance Ulanoff. "So if the screen detects that, say, you're a guy with a beard, it might show you an ad for shaving cream. So that might just appear on the screen at that moment."

News 12 spoke with some people who call the new tech "creepy," and others, like Hicksville's Bryan Reyes, who say that's just how things are nowadays. Raya Abusaab, of Plainview, calls it an invasion of privacy.

Susan Gottehrer, the Nassau chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, released a statement saying in part: "Every time companies or governments introduce any kind of new surveillance technology, we should be asking where is the information going, how accurate is it, what biases might be built into it, and whether the loss of privacy is worth it."

Currently, Walgreens has the cameras at six locations in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington state.

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