Spatial Tracking, the Future of Retail, and the Reality of Privacy

The Future of Retail, and the Reality of Privacy

Last year we were invited to a brainstorming session with Accenture to come up with an experience for their flagship tech trends conference that would provide a unique experience and help solidify the brand thought leadership.

Thinking back to our first meeting no one would have predicted at that point what an interesting and thought-provoking experience we all collaborated on.

The ideation phase developed out of a thread which began with the Wood Wide Web concept (fascinating if you haven’t explored it). In a nutshell, the Wood Wide Web way trees in a forest are “networked” and communicate to one and other.

Many iterations, and brainstorming sessions later we ended with a polished deployment in 4 cities of a social experiment which (loosely based on personality) showed how individual attendees were traveling and experiencing a conference space.

The ideation phase developed out of a thread which began with the Wood Wide Web concept

This week we leave for a re-envisioning of this project in a new form for Accenture’s IUEC (International Utilities and Energy Conference) conference at the Ritz Half Moon Bay (for surf fans this is where Mavericks is held every year).

Using our core technology:

  • Registration Web Application
  • An in-house chip with a built-in LED, Bluetooth3 and RFID receptors
  • Routers which ping the Bluetooth receivers
  • A local server receiving all the data and converting it into a data visualization
  • Non-wifi reliant, not reliant on large scale high bandwidth setups.
  • Easily configurable meshwork which allows fine-tuning of how and what types of spatial data you collect
We will again be exploring if the social traits we identify with correlate to the people we choose to meet. It will be interesting to see what data comes from this but also the types of discussions it creates around.

Actionable data in physical spaces

During previous deployments, there was a lot of excitement and interest in what it means to collect data from physical spaces along with the impact on retail, architecture, and other business models.

There is a lot of research around the resurgence of brick and mortar retail shopping being the more popular outlet for Millennials and GenZ—a generation born with cell phones. This is all happening with a catch. Deeper digital experiences. Things that seem sort of gimmicky ideas at the moment like Augmented Reality (AR) change rooms are actually starting to create deeper customer connections and create huge brand differentiators.

69m — GenZ in US alone
$44b — Worth of business
77% — Prefer in-store purchasing
36% — Willing to create content for a brand

Actionable data is a huge component of deeper digital experiences. In the context of these conferences the tech creates a memorable experience and highlights some interesting trends but what are the possibilities if applied to a business model.


  • “See” where shoppers are on a retail floor
  • How they flow through product
  • Where they spend the most time
  • Enabling retail floor flexibility and configuration
  • Re-envisioning the relationship between loyalty programs and retailers based on flow

Product Testing

  • Easily integrate into pop ups to test product in real time
  • Combine with shelving tech to see what products are being picked up and how long

Conference Centers and Stadiums

  • Accurate traffic data which can be turned around into tiered pricing
  • Accurate data for attendees and customers
  • Tackling flow problems

These are some initial conversations and thoughts running around our heads. It will be interesting to see what new conversations come up at the IUEC. We will definitely have a short recap with some of the insights coming out of the event for the energy sector to follow up with.

Any other ideas or comments? We’d love to hear from you and we can include them in the next Toolkit.

Actionable data is a huge component of deeper digital experiences.

Our Team

Meet the Author

Symon Oliver
Design Director

10 years in design, focusing on research, digital consulting, and leading digital projects at Tennis.

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