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Kinect grocery cart follows shoppers around the store

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March 5, 2012

Whole Foods is testing a Kinect-powered shopping cart that will follow shoppers around and...

Whole Foods is testing a Kinect-powered shopping cart that will follow shoppers around and detect the items they pick up

When Chaotic Moon Labs debuted the Kinect-powered Board of Awesomeness - and its mind-reading offspring, the Board of Imagination - that was apparently just a preview of a more practical product the company had in the works. Grocery store chain, Whole Foods, recently gave a demonstration of Chaotic Moon's latest device, which uses the same technology in a self-propelled shopping cart. The "Smarter Cart," as it's been named, can detect what items are placed in it, match those to a shopping list, and even follow shoppers around the store on its own.

Like Chaotic Moon's Board of Awesomeness project, the Smarter Cart uses a Kinect sensor synced with a Windows 8 tablet to control its motion, but with one key difference. Instead of having someone actively directing where the device moves, the cart monitors the user and follows them like a lost puppy as they move about the store and pick out their items. The Kinect's voice recognition is also implemented this time around, so a user can ask the cart for more information - like where specific items are located in the store - or tell it when they are done shopping.

The cart can also track the items placed in it by scanning their bar codes, match them to a pre-made shopping list, and give the total cost of all the items in the basket. It can even detect if the wrong type of item is grabbed and verbally inform the shopper. In a demonstration, a rep placed a box of spaghetti in the cart and was instantly told that it was not gluten-free, which has been specified on the shopping list. With some voice commands, the cart could then tell the rep in what aisle and section the gluten-free spaghetti was located. A shopper could also link the cart to a billing account to pay for everything instantly, and then bag up their groceries and walk right out of the store.

The project is still quite early in development, but Whole Foods has already tested single carts in some stores. The company plans to begin testing multiple carts at one store in Austin, Texas starting next month. If this follows the same trajectory as Chaotic Moon's Boards, don't be too surprised to see the process streamlined even further with a shopping cart that reads a person's brain waves.

Check out the video below to see the Smarter Cart in action.

Source: Geekwire via Wired

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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4 Comments

I think they are really missing the boat here. When I'm shopping, I don't need a cart to follow me around. I want help choosing and comparing products. I want to see customer reviews on the products I am considering like I can at Amazon. I want to see price history and price comparison with other stores. I may need to know where something is located. This doesn't address any of those issues. Oddly, you would think that would be a perfect app for a tablet device. But I have yet to find a suitable app. Brick and mortar stores are not going to provide this because giving the customer price information does not increase profits.

Shishkabugs
7th March, 2012 @ 07:27 am PST

"Would you like some fries to go with it?" - ultimately, I think that supermarkets will use such a device to increase their sales by prompting the shopper to buy something they didn't plan to buy!

It may also be possible for supermarkets to recommend their own brand even if your shopping list contains a very specific brand.

It will be good to have a wireless headphone, or a sync to a bluetooth headset

VSVagh
7th March, 2012 @ 09:41 am PST

Yawn!.... Why not just setup a simple inventory picking system and just let the shopper stay in their car. One such cart was demonstrated in 1979... failed then also.

Common.Sense.Lost
7th March, 2012 @ 10:20 am PST

Everyone has become so gd lazy! We're on our way to being the human blobs in Wall-E... considering the overweight and obesity rates in our culture someone should come up with a shopping cart that's HARDER to push...

thewaldron
8th March, 2012 @ 10:51 am PST
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