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Taggalo's Customer-Analysis Platform Marries Video, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Beacons

The Italian startup says its device and analytics service can help retailers better understand who their customers are, as well as their interests and patterns.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Nov 10, 2015

Taggalo, an Italian startup that formed as a spinoff of Italy's National Research Council (CNR), a governmental body that supports scientific and technological research, launched its eponymous product last week. The Taggalo unit—which combines a video camera, a Bluetooth beacon and a Wi-Fi radio into a 4-inch-square, 2-inch-thick device—is marketed, along with a companion data-analytics service, as a means for retailers to collect a wide range of data related to their customers.

The company is one of 12 startups selected for the Challenge Up Internet of Things accelerator program sponsored by Cisco, Deutsche Telekom and Intel. The program aims to stoke innovation among early-stage companies developing IoT technologies or IoT-based solutions.

The Taggalo unit combines a video camera with a Bluetooth beacon and a Wi-Fi radio.
The Wi-Fi radio in the Taggalo device collects the media access control (MAC) address being transmitted by a customer's smartphone when she or he walks into the store (assuming the phone's Wi-Fi modem is turned on) as a means of tracking new versus returning guests. The unit's software records the length of time that each visitor stays within a Taggalo device's Wi-Fi range. Taggalo employs the SHA-2 hashing standard to encrypt the MAC addresses it stores. When a shopper returns to the store, the device can then use this hashing function to match the MAC address to the encrypted version in its database. (Shoppers can opt out of this data collection by turning off the Wi-Fi functions on their phone, the company notes, or by sending an email request to Taggalo.)

The Taggalo device's camera takes video images of every shopper within its range. The software scans the video imagery and uses morphologic facial analysis to estimate each individual's gender, age and race as he or she moves through the store. The software then indexes this information based on store location, as well as by date and time. Taggalo suggests that retailers place one Taggalo device near the front door to capture video of shoppers walking past the store, another to capture customers moving into the building and a third inside the store.

Taggalo stores the demographic data it derives from analysis—e.g., male, Caucasian, 40 years old—for 24 months. The Taggalo device analyzes the video in real time and does not save images of shoppers on the device or in the cloud.

The Bluetooth beacon inside the device can be used to ping the smartphones of shoppers who have downloaded the store's app onto their phones, which then would advertise special offers through push notifications as they shop. Taggalo offers a service to white-label and manage smartphone apps for its customers.

Retailers can access the shopper-analytics data in real time via a Web-based dashboard. In addition, they can access the raw data in order to integrate it into any in-house analytics software platform it already uses.

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