Walmart patents tech tool to monitor employee performance

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The retail company sees ‘listening to the frontend’ technology as a cost-cutting measure to improve employee efficiency in its stores. 

In a move that can lead to strong employee surveillance, Walmart has patented a new technology to monitor the productivity of employees through audio surveillance of checkout counters.

The new patent with ‘sound sensors’ and ‘listening to the frontend’ technology will be used in stores to pick up conversations between employees and customers.

These recordings will help the Company identify employees from the audio, and study and measure their performance. However, it is not clear, whether the retail giant will develop the technology further.

The technology picks up common sounds near a checkout, such as beeps from a scanner, sounds created by bags and more.

The sensor will analyse the audio, which will be used to calculate a score on certain performance metrics. It will also sense how far customers’ voices appear to be from the cash register, allowing Walmart to gauge the length of the line.

This will indicate the cashier’s speed of moving through the line of customers, as well as signal the need to open more registers to accommodate the flow of customers.

Such performance metrics will typically track whether an employee made small talk with a customer, analyse the contents of the conversation, and check whether the employee used a specific greeting or followed a script.

Walmart considers this ‘listening to the frontend’ technology as a cost-cutting technique to improve employee efficiency in its stores.

According to the Company, the performance metrics will ensure that employees perform their jobs efficiently and correctly, help save costs and also improve guest satisfaction levels.

However, it is seen as the most invasive use of technology because it will listen in on guests’ conversations.

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