Over at The Globe and Mail, Ivor Tossell writes that Toronto’s Turnstyle Solutions Startup is taking a groundbreaking approach to giving merchants a sense of how people are interacting with their stores. By using the WiFi transmissions from customer smartphones, Turnstyle lets you track – but not identify – customers as they enter and explore brick and mortar shops.
Turnstyle’s system is essentially a listening post: a customized WiFi base station that listens in as smartphones broadcast their MAC addresses as they look for hotspots. In the interests of privacy, the system immediately forgets the code itself, “hashing” it into a unique identifier that can’t be traced to an individual. But it will remember if the same (anonymized) smartphone returns for another visit. If clients use multiple base stations, Turnstyle can use users’ relative signal strength to determine where in the store they are.
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