SINGAPORE - Science fiction is set to become a reality for shoppers in Singapore, with retailers testing tracking technology that could come from the futuristic movie, Minority Report.
Just like in the 2002 Steven Spielberg thriller, consumers can be monitored by sensors and cameras when they enter a store or shopping centre.
This technology is also being tested in the United States and Britain.
"(The retailers') main objective is to find out who their target market is and how to better serve them," said retail expert Sarah Lim, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic.
Based on the technology used, retailers can figure out shopper demographics by age and gender, where crowds tend to be and what interests shoppers.
This can allow retailers to better plan shop or mall layouts and tweak marketing campaigns.
A mall manager who knows which shopping centres are frequented by women could hold events there that appeal to them, for instance.
Malls and convenience stores have expressed interest in a tracking technology from local start-up Bimar. The firm can estimate shopper numbers across malls and look at how long people stay in shops, using sensors that pick up anonymous phone signals.
With funding help from the Singapore Land Authority, it plans to roll out its service next month for Orchard Road, the Jurong East area and AMK Hub.
Last week, SingTel announced a service that uses cameras to figure out customer demographics, while StarHub is testing Wi-Fi technology with malls for this.
For now, many retail clients of the tech firms are keeping mum about their plans, and have declined to be identified.
The technology could prove useful for consumers as well.
The Wi-Fi technology which StarHub is testing could allow shoppers to find, say, a specific clothing store in a mall.
Retailers are also testing digital signboards that not only track shopper numbers in an area, but can also serve up product and event news to consumers based on their gender and age.