Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Swarm Shopping

PostedNovember 12, 2006

Download File (mp3)


Randy Atkins:  The same psychology that causes people to flock to accident scenes could be used to affect the behavior of consumers.

Ronaldo Menezes:  They tend to imitate what other people do.

Randy Atkins:  Ronaldo Menezes, a computer scientist at the Florida Institute of Technology, says purchase patterns could be tracked if radio frequency I.D. tags are on products.

Ronaldo Menezes:  By analyzing what other people in the store are currently buying, we actually give a feedback to the other customers.

Randy Atkins:  The data could be sent to, say, a display on your shopping cart.  Would you more likely to buy a popular item?

Ronaldo Menezes:  We show, under simulation, that this is probably the case.

Randy Atkins:  Menezes thinks the technology could even replace discount incentives.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.

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