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Beacon shoppers' helpers

Beacons are little radio modules that can be used to send a stream of ads to shoppers' smartphones. They have other potential uses for commerce, as well. But for the service, the users has to surrender some personal data.

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Consumers have to have the right apps installed on their smartphones to receive product information from the Beacons. Then, when they enter a given shop, they automatically receive advertizing, coupons and personalized offers as push messages on screen. The problem here is protecting their privacy. By using this type of Beacon, consumers reveal a great deal about their personal tastes - and lives. Tracking data are collected that can be used to piece together a picture of their purchasing patterns. Laws restricting the use of such data are not yet in place.