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Back in July I wrote about a controversial piece of tech used by Nordstrom that tracked the movements of customers throughout its stores to help management make decisions about product placements. At the time, it seemed like something of a scandal. But now, as AppleInsider reports, Apple has launched its own pilot version of the program called 'iBeacon," which follows you throughout a store and shows you deals around you.
The store in this case is the Macy's, specifically its Midtown Manhattan and San Francisco locations. Scattered throughout the store are shopBeacons designed by ShopKick, which offer suggestions to the relevant app on your Bluetooth-enabled iPhone depending on which part of the store you're in.
The service also remembers your "favorites" list, as it were. According to a ShopKick representative, "If [a customer] "likes" a specific product in the app, shopBeacon can remind her when she enters the store that sells it."
The actual hardware used to transmit the data only costs retailers $40 per unit, and each boasts a battery that can last for as long as five years. If successful at Macy's, ShopKick plans to start extending the service to other retailers as well. That, indeed, may only the beginning. Major League Baseball has even expressed interest in the service, and a similar pilot installation is planned for the New York Mets' Citi Field.
AppleInsider notes that Apple revealed the service "quietly" in July during WWDC, which isn't much of a surprise considering the conflicted reception of Nordstrom's practices. Perhaps the key difference is openness. With iBeacons, customers know they're being tracked and catered to, and that may be enough to push the tech in the direction Apple wants it to go.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.