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Google to Chrome-plate our shops with creepy mood-sensing AI signs

You look down – why not buy some stuff to cheer yourself up?

Google Next '17 Google is pitching retailers on a total conversion of their floor, register, and warehouse systems to its Chrome, Android, and Cloud platforms.

The Chocolate Factory painted a picture for customers of single-use devices linked up through its mobile platforms and managed through a web interface. To help push that idea, Google is including additional management services in Chrome and Android devices for retailers.

"We find that a lot of retailers are trying to connect the online as well as the physical store presence," said Vidya Nagarajan, a Google senior product manager.

"We believe ChromeOS and Android are the best device platforms for extremely engaging experiences."

Among the scenarios Nagarajan lays out are ChromeOS digital signage systems that are controlled by a connected Chrome box and app that could update sale prices or change specials with little manual interaction, or Kiosk tablets for users to get info from an Android app linked to other services – a feature Google hopes to enable with the release of Chrome Kiosk APIs and a Chrome management console.

Additionally, the systems will make life easier for IT staff by equipping employees with low-cost tablets or handsets that would be remotely managed and locked to running a single Android App.

Other possibilities, however, may make customers and businesses a little uncomfortable. In addition to linking signage with the phone-tracking Beacon retail systems, Google wants companies to hook their signage up to the new Cloud Video API to manipulate shoppers in real time.

"It can see Mary is not pretty happy right now," Nagarajan said during a demonstration of a hypothetical creeper sign. "And based on the mood it can provide relevant contextual information that gets passed to Mary." Like, why not try some retail therapy, no doubt.

Google is encouraging business users to trial the Chrome for Kiosks and device management tools. Hopefully the mood-reading signage will be a bit further off in the future. ®

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