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Apple's retail tech can notice shoppers when they arrive

Ever wonder how Apple employees know you need help or are there to pick up an order? Apple employees now have a way to track you in the store. On Black Friday, New York Times reporter Brian X. Chen took a closer look at a customer tracking system Apple has been using "for a few weeks." It's an interesting look at how Apple is using its own technology to improve and expedite the retail shopping experience.

The system is powered by an internal application running on an employee's iPod touch. A customer walking into the store can use the Apple Store app to alert employees they have arrived to pick up their order. The customer's iOS device uses GPS to locate them and sends the alert when they enter the store. When an employee receives an alert, their iPod touch will display the location of the customer on a map of the store.

A similar system was already being used for customers with product questions. Employees would be alerted when you asked for assistance using the iPad demo machines. The iPod-based system is meant to improve the shopping experience for customers. Says Apple employee Diego Aguirre, "We don't want to feel like we're hassling our customers to shop. We want them to feel at home." It also lets employees quickly help those customers who need assistance.

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