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SmartShopper - the voice-activated shopping list


June 21, 2006

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June 22, 2006 This is a rendering of a concept device that may or may not be a killer app. SmartShopper is an automated grocery shopping list device that will use voice recognition technology to store, and intelligently aggregate lists for shopping and errands, then print the list. According to the company's co-founder Richard G. Brindisi, "the user simply presses a button on the unit and says the name of a grocery item they will need on their next visit to the store. The unit has an LCD and an embedded thermal printer that actually prints the list right out of the unit. The list will be printed according to the categories in the grocery store, i.e. all of the produce items will be listed together, frozen foods together, etc. The unit comes with nearly 2,000 grocery items already entered and the user can add their own favorite items or brands." Now on one hand, it’s easy to see this functionality being incorporated into a Palm pilot, Windows CE device or built into almost anything with a microprocessor, so it won’t exist without competition. But on the other hand, it is designed for people to keep track of things without having to use a computer, could be used by the technologically-dysfunctional, it’s small and handy, could be used driving a car … and there's a demo of the device here.

... (we know of several people who use voice recorders while driving so they can put together to-do lists while their brain is free-wheeling, dictate letters etc) and sometimes stand-alone gadgets without all the clutter do better than multi-function devices. We can't help feeling though, that as computing becomes all pervasive, we aren’t sure there’ll be enough people who want to buy this product to do something they feel their computer or handheld should already do. Whatsmore, thermal printers suck big-time and one of these devices left inside a car sitting in the sun might render its thermal paper useless before it gets printed (instead of the usual "just after" it gets printed).

Co-founder Greg Vittardi points out that, "another unique feature is the 'errand list'. Before leaving for the store, the user can say the names of errands they may also need to run, such as bank, car wash, post office, dry cleaners and many others. The errands will be the first category to print on the list followed by their grocery list."

The company is considering both domestic and international manufacturing locations. According to Mr. Brindisi, the concept was the "brain child" of co-founder Greg Vittardi. Mr. Vittardi came up with the concept and formed the corporation with Mr. Brindisi. Sorta gives you visions of Bill Gates and Paul Allen in the garage back in the early seventies doesn't it.

Once Vittardi and Brindisi completed the patent research and filing process, they launched the company. Mr. Brindisi is a former "Entrepreneur of the Year" award winner.

Mr. Vittardi said, "We have received very positive initial feedback from the retail industry." The company expects to launch their product in the fall of 2006 and has licensed voice recognition technology from Nuance Communications for the SmartShopper.

We're not prepared to bet against it though - sometimes simple, well executed devices meeting a need in the marketplace become killer apps and the post-war baby boomers are heading for old age and permanent forgetfulness, and … that's it, don't call it a shopper, call it a memory assistant. Anyway, that's our take on the subject and if you wish to communicate with Greg and Richard with comments or questions or distribution enquiries, or your company would like to manufacture the device, they can be emailed here..

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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