Supermarket Of The Near Future?

from the getting-close... dept

Back in April we wrote about a German test of the German supermarket of the future that included a ton of wireless technologies. Computer Weekly has written up a more detailed look at the wireless technology this market is using, focusing on the WiFi network around the store and the RFID tags in the products. It seems like they’re testing a number of different ways to use WiFi – including for both the shoppers and the workers at the store. Shoppers are given a little computer on the handlebars of the shopping carts that let shoppers scan items themselves or get additional info. Of course, considering the dismal failure of things as low tech as “shopping cart calculators” to keep working after the first day they were offered, I wonder just how many of these devices will keep from getting completely banged up. Not sure how fun it will be wandering the aisles with a broken screen or (worse) a constant blue screen of death. However, store employees are also equipped with WiFi-enabled PDAs, which let them check inventory and order products. They’re also looking to add softphone features to the devices, to let employees communicate better. Will this mean no more announcements of “I need a price-check at register 4!” or “Cleanup to aisle 8”? The article also takes a pretty in-depth look at the RFID stuff, including the benefits of it, and the privacy complaints against it – items we’ve covered repeatedly on this site. The thing that struck me most about this “supermarket of the future” is that it’s not a very distant future. All of these technologies are widely available now. We don’t need to wait for any technology breakthrough to make it happen – just for people and companies to start using the technologies. Of course, whatever happened to the “supermarket of the future” that was just supposed to involve you (or, better yet, your fridge) ordering what you needed online and having it all delivered?

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Comments on “Supermarket Of The Near Future?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Times change...

Back in the 1980s, I remember a Newsweek magazine photo that showed a yuppie woman with a deep tan talking on a cell phone in a supermarket aisle that was lined with freezer doors. At the time, the notion of yuppies talking on cell phones in supermarkets was considered shocking, because supermarkets were supposed to be a low-tech family outing environment.

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