Now that Amazon is making a big push into real-life stores, it might not want you shopping from competitors during your visit.
The online retailer has been awarded a patent for “controlling online shopping within a physical store or retail location.” Under the patent, customers who use the Wi-Fi connection of an Amazon-owned store — which currently includes Amazon Books stores and soon will include Whole Foods — would have their browsing monitored and blocked should they visit a competing retailer’s website.
The irony in such a patent is obvious: Amazon has made it easy for customers to turn other stores into glorified showrooms for years. The retailer has included barcode scanning in its own shopping apps as far back as 2010, and has since enhanced its scanning technology to identify items just by pointing a camera at them.
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As pointed out by ZDNet, customers can probably get around the technology by using their phone’s cellular network to do this comparison shopping. And even though Amazon has the patent, that does not necessarily confirm it will make use of it in its stores.