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Kinect Grocery Cart Follows Shoppers Around the Store

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the shop-smarter dept.

Hardware 155

cylonlover writes "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."

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155 comments

"25% off whole grain cereal" (4, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261217)

Please place the item in your cart. You have 20 seconds to comply.

Re:"25% off whole grain cereal" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261263)

I welcome our shopping cart overlords.

Re:"25% off whole grain cereal" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261383)

"Dak... Tak... Lak... Pak"

invalid item in bagging area (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261629)

invalid item in bagging area remove idea and try again.

yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261221)

Even less exercise while I stroll around in my wheelchair buying twinkies and ho-hos!

What happens when the shop is overcrowded... (4, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261233)

... and the cart can't find its way around the other shoppers. Remember, compared to its "owner" the cart is rather bulky, and may have some trouble advancing in situations which pose no problem for the owner...

Re:What happens when the shop is overcrowded... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261361)

Not in America. The average American posterior is noticeably wider than a shopping cart.

Re:What happens when the shop is overcrowded... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261401)

Presumably this is why they're trialling it at Whole Foods. More than one person in the store is an edge case they can safely ignore.

You have that completely backwards (2)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261553)

Whole foods has the most narrow isles and crowded stores of any grocery I have been to. At first I thought it was just the particular store I was at, but then visited one across the country and it had the exact same layout and spacing. I hate being in that place, even with just a basket. I can't imagine having to use a cart in there, but I only ever go to pick up a couple things that aren't in other groceries.

Re:You have that completely backwards (3, Informative)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261715)

It really depends on the store. The original Whole Foods in New Orleans was, as we all used to joke, like shopping with 50 of your closest friends in a closet (It was by far the smallest non-family-owned grocery store I've every been in, even the A&P in the French Quarter was larger). When they built the new one uptown it was much more open and nicer. Now that I'm in the Boston area, the ones in Cambridge (near Mass Ave) and Woburn are definitely smallish and occasionally uncomfortable, the other one in Cambridge (near Alewife) and the one in Dedham are great though. As much or more room than any normal grocery store. I think a lot depends on age and location. The earliest ones were built where ever they could get the cheapest rent, as time went on 9and profits went up) they went to the medium sized stores for smaller markets or already served areas, and actually large nice store for flagship locations.

Re:You have that completely backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261789)

If Aldi is good at anything, it's reducing overhead. Narrow aisles means more usable floorspace.

Re:You have that completely backwards (0)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261833)

like shopping with 50 of your closest friends in a closet

Wow, that must be quite a bang! But to "do it" with 49 guys at once, I'd imagine you'd have to be quite self-confident, no? so why are y'all still in the closet?

Re:You have that completely backwards (0)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262151)

You really, really had to stretch for that one didn't you, I mean other than the word "closet" there's absolutely no support for your joke in the whole post.

Re:You have that completely backwards (2)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262233)

You really, really had to stretch for that one didn't you

I bet he did.

Re:You have that completely backwards (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262289)

You really, really had to stretch for that one didn't you,

You mean, like that famous chap from the Christmas Islands? Indeed, he can stretch it wide enough to drive an entire Whole Foods robotic shopping cart through it!

Re:What happens when the shop is overcrowded... (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261927)

It's a nice proof of concept but I agree with you on the navigation, as well as hearing a store full of those would drive me nuts, hell, it announcing I'm buying anything personal, like condoms would suck. Plus I'd imagine in that current form, it will just get stolen.

OTOH, what I really want in a store is help. Human help is often hard to find, having to track it down and half the time they seem clueless. I wish that at the end of every aisle or something predictable like that, I could find kiosks that tell me either price of an item or location of what I'm looking for vs. my relative location. They already have those in some places, but it's usually one or the other. Bonus points if it could tell me more about the product I have or want.

Re:What happens when the shop is overcrowded... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261941)

This would be no different from the human robots who push carts around the grocery store now.

Just shop online. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261249)

Place items into your 'virtual' cart.

Store Directory (1)

andellmoon (868381) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261255)

I would like it to also tell me what asile the peanut butter is in

Re:Store Directory (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261835)

When the Chaotic Moon guys were on Buzz Out Loud they went through that.
They are working on a store directory system for the carts but it is a bit of a challenge as the location of goods change a lot more frequently than most think.

Another feature they were working on was a way to say scan a piece of food, and be able to query for say gluten free alternatives etc.

The full interview can be found here: http://www.cnet.com/8301-19709_1-57388873-10/buzz-out-loud-1583-let-whurley-the-evil-genius-blow-your-mind-podcast/ [cnet.com] :D

Yeah, more stuff we don't need! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261301)

Joy, great joy! Another damned monitor [almost] no one needs embedded in yet another lazygenic device. Isn't moving our asses way better that using this kind of technology?

There's plenty of real needs to solve, please stop designing teh futurez.

Re:Yeah, more stuff we don't need! (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261523)

I'd be interested in the shopping assistant to warn me about allergies and help me find items around the store. The automated, follow-me-around part of the idea, not so much.

Then again, if someone made a mistake in entering the allergies information about the products, I won't trust the system anyway. Just because there's no "milk or cheese" doesn't mean it's dairy-free. There's lactose in salt and vinegar chips, as a random example.

You *NEED* Taste-T-O's... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261783)

Joy, great joy! Another damned monitor [almost] no one needs ...

I'm sure it will make subtile brand suggestions at the direction of Marketing...

Re:Yeah, more stuff we don't need! (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261807)

I'd bring up two points. The first is that pushing a cart around hardly qualifies as "more exercise" than having it follow you. A friend of mine who is severely obese always wants to be the one to push the cart if we are out somewhere that has them. She calls it her "walker" and it actually makes walking easier for her (at least she doesn't use those damned electric chairs, and to be fair she's lost 40 pound in the last 6 months or so, so she's trying). I don't particularly care if my cart follows me around or not, so I can't say I see the benefit her, but I don't think it's just and "even more laziness" situation exactly either.

The second is that the cart following you part seems like it's more of a secondary thing. The shopping assistant seems both more primary and more useful.

Theft? (1)

VxMorpheusxV (817585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261311)

In the video, it states that you can complete a transaction and be free to leave the store from the cart. How are they going to prevent theft? I can easily jam something in my pocket or bag on the way out.

Re:Theft? (1)

dleewo (80434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261385)

I wouldn't think it's any different to the risks involves when they offer self-checkout counters

Re:Theft? (1)

VxMorpheusxV (817585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261563)

Current self checkouts are generally by an exit, with an employee monitoring the area. This gave me impression you could check out in the middle of the store.

Re:Theft? (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261899)

The Stop and Shop chain in the Boston area has a scan and bag system that totally relies on customer honesty. You swipe your reward card at a kiosk and it gives you a handheld barcode scanner. You scan and bag your items as you go (they have scales near the produce and loose dry good sections that print a bar code for the scanner), and when you get to the check out you swipe your reward card again. The system wirelessly transfers your purchases from the barcode scanner currently affiliated with your card, and you pay. The items never leave your bag once you've scanned and bagged them. It's tremendously convenient when we remember to grab a scanner. Checkout literally takes seconds, This just takes the same theory one step further and lets you pay at the cart instead of needing to sync with a register.

Re:Theft? (0)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261449)

I can easily jam something in my pocket or bag on the way out.

And then you turn around and he's just looking at you with his bright red eye.

"What are you doing, Dave?"

And then you realize that the security cameras are zeroing on you.

And one of the cameras is suspiciously long and thin.

And you notice a tiny red spot in your shirt.

misread as "Kmart Grocery Cart" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261347)

I had a flash vision of frantically ducking into a kid's clothing goods aisle to escape from Robert Patrick in grim pursuit with a shopping cart.

That completes your list! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261381)

Like retailers really want their shoppers to only buy the things on their shopping list.

This is a pointless invention. (4, Interesting)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261407)

If they want to impress me, then find a way to let me order groceries from home to be delivered at my home at no additional charge.

That has to be possible. Look at Amazon with their no shipping charges on anything over 25 dollars rule. If the grocery stores had that it would be amazing. And while some people might like going to the grocery store... I don't like shopping in person.

How great would it be if you could order everything up at home, compare all the prices from a dozen outlets, and get everything you want right to your front door.

Some might say it has to cost extra for that. But does it? Think of what you'd save if you didn't have to have so many grocery stores. Imagine if instead you had a small number of convenience stores for common items and everything else came from warehouses. The warehouses are there anyway. That's where the stores get everything from. So instead of a big truck coming around at 2 AM to restock the grocery store... the trucks instead move around your neighborhood dropping off packages of groceries. Frozen goods can be packed in ice. There is a theft issue there but we can work that out with something that looks like a big specialty mail box.

This is doable and it would be much more efficient. Less traffic on the road. Less real estate wasted on a service that isn't required.

Everything can go from the warehouse to our door step. Just a web prompt in between.

Some people don't have computers? Put a kiosk in the convenience store and they can have it delivered to their home.

Maybe this is a stupid idea... But I'd use it exclusively.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261503)

What you describe sort of already exists - it's called Amazon Fresh, but it's only available in Seattle. No delivery charge on minimum orders of $50.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261517)

In America you must pay for your home delivered groceries?!

In Spain you just have to accept everything being closer to the expiration date than you'd have taken at the store but that's it.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261699)

Yes. There is no charge. Completely free. Of course the business just eats the cost and doesn't pass it along to you, this is how the business world works. No siree, you, completely free out of the goodness of their hearts. They love you in Spain.

Don't listen to those cynics who tell you that they bury those charges in the base cost of the goods. They are liars and just hate you.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262157)

Jesus listen to you little drama queens.

I'm not suggesting that the company not make a profit. I'm suggesting that by shifting away from brick and mortar institutions they can make up the difference. So they'll still have a nice profit margin. It's just the consumer will be paying the same price.

Right now when I buy something in the store, I'm paying for that store and the people that are working in it. If I order the same thing and it is delivered at the same price... then I'm not paying for that store or those people anymore. Instead it's going to the delivery truck and the delivery guy.

My argument here is that the truck and the guy should be cheaper then the store.

Maybe I'm wrong... I just think it should be explored more deeply. Someone pointed out that some dotcom companies tried it and died. That may be so but many of those companies were very badly run. It might just need to be tried by a more professional outfit.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261565)

What we need is a huge physical network... Tubes, perhaps? Yes, a series of tubes would be perfect.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261669)

If they want to impress me, then find a way to let me order groceries from home to be delivered at my home at no additional charge.

You want someone else to pay for the fuel and the manpower to individually ship your groceries to you... and this is the only way to impress you? I suspect you are going to have a very unimpressive life.

Look at Amazon with their no shipping charges on anything over 25 dollars rule.

You are failing so hard at economics right now it's hard for me to type this right now. Let's be clear on something: The shipping company gets paid. The delivery driver gets paid. The warehouse owner gets paid. And they're all making a profit. And you get whatever you ordered. Amazon is allowed to do stuff like that because they don't pay sales tax, which if you did the math you'd notice sales tax costs more than the "delivery tax" as it were. So basically, you're getting that "free" shipping because you're not paying taxes on what you ordered. But it's not free. And other companes offer "free shipping too". It works like this $price = $price + $shipping cost ...now the shipping is 'magically' free.

My point here is that nobody's going to perform a service for you for free. Nothing is 'free'. Stop using the word 'free' in reference to a business transaction. There. Is. No. Such. Thing.

Maybe this is a stupid idea... But I'd use it exclusively.

*cough*

Re:This is a pointless invention. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261759)

You want someone else to pay for the fuel and the manpower to individually ship your groceries to you... and this is the only way to impress you? I suspect you are going to have a very unimpressive life.

Remember the 90's? All of these probably still exists in Portland.
webvan
webgrocer
kozmo
urban fetch

This works in Seattle.
amazon fresh

Re:This is a pointless invention. (4, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262065)

First, you're being exceeding and entirely unnessarily rude. Rather then appear superior, this sort of behavior makes you appear childish. This is just a word to the wise in case you weren't aware pointless insults make you sound stupid.

Second, obviously people get paid. However, there is an expense in maintaining retail space in the middle of a city. There is an expense to issuing mail coupons. There is an expense to having check out baggers in the store. There is an expense to having the managers. there is an expense to send trucks to the store and unload goods.

I am hoping that by eliminating all of that there is enough savings to pay for the cost of having a truck deliver to the door directly. For example, leasing space often is 5 percent or a little less of total spending. By not having a store front they eliminate that and get five percent right there. Total number of employees per customer should also be reduced. Labor costs are typically the largest expense in any business. Any thing that can bring those costs down will probably have a big impact on the bottom line.

So the economics aren't that irrational. Had you bothered to think about it a bit before acting like a spoiled child... you might have realized that. I suspect you're too interested in protecting your ego at this point to actually give the idea a fair hearing. But this is my likely vain attempt to have a rational discussion with you.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (0)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262385)

Look at Amazon with their no shipping charges on anything over 25 dollars rule.

You are failing so hard at economics right now it's hard for me to type this right now. Let's be clear on something: The shipping company gets paid. The delivery driver gets paid. The warehouse owner gets paid. And they're all making a profit. And you get whatever you ordered. Amazon is allowed to do stuff like that because they don't pay sales tax, which if you did the math you'd notice sales tax costs more than the "delivery tax" as it were. So basically, you're getting that "free" shipping because you're not paying taxes on what you ordered. But it's not free. And other companes offer "free shipping too". It works like this $price = $price + $shipping cost ...now the shipping is 'magically' free.

Actually, if you're a grocery store, you can milk extra money from insurance companies to help offset the cost of shipping.

Think of all the health insurance companies who will kill for information on their clients? And the onine grocery stores will have your name, address, AND what you buy every month from them! (Plus a credit card with billing address if they need to ensure proper correllation).

"Sorry, we see you've purchased nothing but hot dogs, chips and burgers, and no fruits and veggies. We're going to add a unhealthy diet surcharge to your health insurance premium".

It's effectively a super-loyalty card - one that you can't pass around to a friend (or swap with a group) and corrupt the marketing/tracking data for. Unless you're in the habit of having to order for your friend and then running around to pick up the groceries.

I'm sure there will be more than a few insurance companies willing to pay for such information. Heck, it will probably pay for the "free shipping"!

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262743)

You're just being pedantic. Instead of "why can't it be free," read it as, "why isn't it economically viable (i.e. more efficient than the status quo) to..." That's the real question, which you didn't address at all.

The answer is, there's no intuitive reason, sitting at your desk, to know it wouldn't work. But in the late 90's people thought it would work, and invested millions in getting it going, and still couldn't break even. There is your argument.

I don't see anything that might have changed the equation since then, unless/until gas rises so high that it actually makes people think twice before driving to the grocery store. (I can't believe that a large truck hitting 30 homes on a route wouldn't be more fuel efficient than 30 SUVs, minivans, and cars going point-to-point).

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261683)

If they want to impress me, then find a way to let me order groceries from home to be delivered at my home at no additional charge.

Yeah, that'd be a great idea! [wikipedia.org]

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261971)

A fair point, but possibly they just did it the wrong way? The idea seems sound. Why did they need their own warehouse space for example? Why not make use of existing grocery store space?

Possibly if Ralph's (large grocery chain on the west coast) partnered with them? That way they only need the servers and the trucks. The supply chain and the warehouses would already be there.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261685)

Yay! This way you always sure to get the most badly beaten lettuce, overly ripe fruits, milk as close to their expiration dates as possible, same thing for meats, eggs, etc..

For frozen, canned, pre-packaged, processed foods, yes, that might make sense as the shelf life is long. Only thing is, I try to avoid these as much as possible. Lately, the grocery stores have expanded in size, but it is mainly to accommodate all that pre-processed crap. That to me is the pointless invention.. Small and local stores carrying fresh produces are the way to go... sadly not how things are aimed at.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (2)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261855)

Quite the opposite. It would allow for more detailed inventory and purchase records, leading to more informed bulk purchase decisions at the store management level. It would allow the store to do more "just in time" purchasing rather than maintain an expensive back stock of inventory that may spoil.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261779)

This already exists in many places, it's a fairly common service on most big places where I live (Lisbon, Portugal) - I believe some shops have even started to have the kiosk at the store just as you suggested. Usually there's a small fee, but for big enough orders it's free at most places.

But when I'm buying fresh produce I really want to choose it in person, and since I'll have to stay home and wait to receive the order anyway, it's often faster and better to go to the store personally (and I don't even own a car!). I believe most people feel the same way, since I still see plenty of people at the store and very few delivery cars driving around.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

grandpastackhouse (2036004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261887)

http://www.freshdirect.com/ [freshdirect.com] already does this in the NY area, it's only a matter of time before it expands or similar services are available in other parts of the country/world. I use them for all the standard boxed groceries and meat that I order every week, and hit the local bodega/grocery for most produce or one-off snacks. I will say that the produce from FD is usually pretty good just overpriced.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262261)

My experience in NY was that everything had a crazy price. My brother was going to university there for a few years. He was ordering his cat food by mail order. That's something you'd never do in Los Angeles. But if you're in a tiny apartment in Manhattan then you do crazy stuff like that.

Anyway, I hope that and similar businesses take off. I think they're ultimately a better way to get goods to people then the store fronts. Ideally the warehouses and the delivery trucks should be different companies entirely. Sort of the same way newspaper printers work in England. In England, the newspapers and the printing companies that make them every day are different companies. As such small papers can enter the market with very low overhead and compete with larger older papers. In the US most newspapers own their printing presses so its very hard for competing papers to get the same coverage and really compete on an even basis.

Anyway, it will happen eventually.

Amazon Prime and Peapod (2)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261889)

I live in the DC area, one of our local grocery chains has a service called Peapod, they use UPS style delivery trucks to deliver your order. The tractor trailer trucks that deliver from the warehouse to the store will not work for residential delivery.

Harris Teeter has a service where they pick your order and leave it in a refrigerator at the front of the store you park at the entrance and load up your groceries.

As an Amazon prime subscriber, I get 'free' shipping on almost everything from Amazon, however they have ONLY warehouses and no showrooms. Prime is $72 a year, I get 'free' shipping on almost everything, if I order 20 items a year its about break even, plus Prime subscribers get access to some of Amazon's Video on Demand catalog for 'free'. Where 'free' is $72 a year.

I have been trying to get my wife to try Peapod or the Harris Teeter service for a long time now. She is very picky about things like produce, I expect we can get those exclusively from our farmer's market, or she can just shop for the produce and have the rest delivered.

IF this model took off, look for a Trader Joes or Aldi sized store to sell 20% of the things that people don't want picked for them, and 80% of the things they need being delivered.

If such a service took off, people wouldn't need such big cars to transport their groceries in. In the DC area a lot of folks don't have cars anyhow and mostly get by with Public Transportation, not a lot by European standards, but a lot for a US city.

Oddly enough in a throwback to a bygone era, we started having Milk delivered about 2 months ago. The milk is from a dairy that shows up at our farmer's market, and they deliver once a week for a $3 delivery charge.

These options are out there, they might not be in your area, but they exist.

Re:Amazon Prime and Peapod (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262345)

Obviously this is going to start in big cities first. I live in Los angeles... not a dense city but a large one.

As to Amazon prime... if you focus on Super Saver orders and try to order in 25 dollar chunks then you can get zero shipping charges without amazon prime.

I order lots of stuff from amazon all the time and almost never pay shipping.

Re:Amazon Prime and Peapod (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262373)

My wife spent a year in Boston before I got a job up here; and she broke her leg while up here alone. She made use of Peapod wile incapacitated. She has a generally favorable impression of the service, but still prefers to just go to the store now that she's mobile. Food is one of those things that I don't think the majority of people will ever want delivered as a matter of preference. Picking out the meat and produce that you want (as in the particular pieces rather than just type and cut), being able to be reminded that you need toilet paper by walking by it, even the impulse purchases, are all things that people like. For special situations (my wife's broken leg) or particular people (guys like the OP who can't be bothered), Peapod and similar are definitely nice to have, but at least for the foreseeable future I think most people will prefer to go to the store most of the time.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Above (100351) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262267)

I used PeaPod (http://www.peapod.com/) when I lived in their service area and was generally happy. IIRC delivery was like $15 if you wanted a specific (and popular) time, but then they discounted the off times so most of the time I paid $5 or $0 for delivery.

What I always wish they did was have set routes. If they told me "we'll be in your area every Tuesday and give you cheaper delivery as a result" I could have gotten in sync with that for all my regular orders and they wouldn't have had to go all over town every day.

Unfortunately they aren't in very many areas.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262459)

Exactly. This is how the mail service works and how they used to deliver milk.

Actually, when I was a baby, my mother had diapers delivered. I'm not ancient this was in the 80s... a guy would come by and drop off cloth diapers and pick up the soiled ones...

It works because they have routes. Just like the garbage trucks.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262397)

What you describe is FAR too intelligent for the current socio-economic climate. It also shits all over the grocers' thinly veiled upselling schemes, since a big part of the shopping "experience" is walking around a giant store full of tempting edibles, with the most common items intentionally spread out all over the place so you have to walk the entire goddamned store.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love it if my local megagrocer had:
- online shopping
- ideally, 24/7 delivery, but I'd settle for 9am-9pm, in 4 hour blocks.
- waived delivery fees on orders exceeding some high amount, maybe $80-100, to discourage college twits from ordering a single package of pasta

That's it. Now bear in mind, that grocer is only three (big suburban) blocks away from my house. I still avoid going, because:

1. I'm lazy
2. I don't drive
3. I'm fucking lazy, I told you
4. I have better things to do than piss away 90 minutes walking to the store, finding what I want (or not), waiting forever in a checkout line, then waiting for a cab to take all that loot home

What's funny (read: stupid) is I can already do all of this for beer and liquor. I shit you not, my local independent booze delivery guy has a complete e-commerce site, synced to the liquor store's inventory and price list. The thing even sends me email when there's a promotion on my favorite items. So why the fuck can't a giant like Loblaw do the same ? EVERYONE in the neighbourhood has to eat, right ? Sort those orders by street, load them on a truck and go drop them off en-masse, just like the milkman used to do. Ditch the retail location and huge parking lot, replace it with a tiny convenience store stocked with essentials and munchies, and the fortune saved on premium commercial real-estate can pay for the delivery fleet several times over. Megamarts make sense in dense urban areas, like my old downtown apartment, but here in the suburbs they're just a giant box of fail.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262771)

Well said, my impression of the situation is roughly the same.

I think they'd also save on labor.

I often shop at my grocery store late at night. I have odd hours and I'm in there at 2 am sometimes. They store is FULL of people from the warehouse. The people that work at the store don't actually stock it. Men in come in trucks every night, unload pallets of goods, and then run around the store to put everything on the shelves.

What if every one of those guys rather then stocking the store drove a single truck on a route. that would not only eliminate the cost of the store which is typically five percent or less of total expenses but it would also cut out all the clerks and what not at the store itself. That HAS to save a lot of money and it could very easily be put towards free delivery. Of course have a minimum delivery order to keep people from abusing it. But the savings from nixing the store have to be huge.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (1)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262583)

As someone else pointed out, there are companies doing this. One in the Chicago and Mikwaukee areas (and more I imagine) is Peapod.

I've used them for years and the convenience of putting items on my list (iPad app) as I need them and then one button click to order is great. Having them delivered is even so convenient if you can plan a few days in advance to schedule an order. I might sound like a commercial message but I found they have really excellent produce and meat.

I know the prices are higher than local market and you do pay for delivery so you have to decide if the trade off of convenience vs. price is worth it.

Re:This is a pointless invention. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39262713)

Are you forgetting Kozmo? Because they thought the same thing. And it turns out they were wrong.

dom

Re:This is a pointless invention. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39262723)

Not everybody wants to be a hermit, tied to a computer!

grocery store games... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261427)

I love it!

Would I be able to convince one to break away from its leader and follow me instead?
I imagine an improv jesus + disciples thing; complete with loaves and fishes.

It adds a whole new dimension to the kids grocery store experience.

Something like this, please (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261437)

It has always struck me as such a waste of time and effort to place items in a shopping cart only to have to take them out to scan them, and put them right back in. If we could have them 'pre-scanned' when placed in the cart, leaving only a final review and payment, we could put the items in our own bags from the get go. I can only assume this still hasn't come to pass for the fear of shoplifters and bar code fakery.

Re:Something like this, please (1)

rfuilrez (1213562) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261831)

I I've seen this exact thing at the Dominicks food chain here in chicagoland. When you walk in the store there are mobile scanners you can grab. Scan as you go. On your way out you put it in a docking station and pay for it. Done.

Admittedly i never used it as I Always preferred the Jewel-Osco chain. I dont know if all of them have this or if it was just the one where i used to live.

Re:Something like this, please (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261867)

It has always struck me as such a waste of time and effort to place items in a shopping cart only to have to take them out to scan them, and put them right back in. If we could have them 'pre-scanned' when placed in the cart, leaving only a final review and payment, we could put the items in our own bags from the get go. I can only assume this still hasn't come to pass for the fear of shoplifters and bar code fakery.

We've had it for years at my local grocery store. We usually don't use the system, but we will when the store is incredibly busy. We get a hand scanner to walk around with, and the carts have a holster for it. Just scan the item, put it in a bag in the cart, and then run through the register quickly to actually pay without removing anything from the cart. It also occasionally gives coupons. It works pretty well. My only issue with it is that it's hard to bag things efficiently when they come in one at a time - it's much easier to have all of the boxed items together for bagging, etc. This is somewhat alleviated by having multiple bags open in the cart at once.

Re:Something like this, please (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261939)

Stop and Shop in Boston does this already. You need a loyalty card and it relies on a handheld barcode scanner instead of a Kinect in your cart, but it's great.

No thanks, have two of these helpers already. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261461)

That is why I have kids. They can even help track the grocery list.

Although a semi-autonomous grocery cart is probably less likely to sneak a box of cookies or crackers into the cart.

Why walk the isles at all? (4, Interesting)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261483)

Without much more difficulty they could automate the whole process:

1) voice recognition or remote interaction with the cart. - The shopper reads their grocery list to the cart and it goes on it's way. Your cart doesn't need to worry about colliding with people so it's free to move much faster on pre-programmed routes.

shopper: "Kellog's flakes"
cart: "Returns three results. Frosted, unfrosted, and with raisins. Please state preference"
or
cart: "Our Great Values store brand costs 20% less. If you were to buy store equivalents today you would save $27.00 total."

The store apps for android and iphone are mostly spamware right now, but you could turn them into automated shopping cart list builders.

2) Shelves use automation to load items onto the cart in a hands free process. Delicate items are loaded in a dedicated area by store staff.

Shoppers wait in the front of the store in an expanded deli area. No checkout, just swipe your credit card and out the door. No more navigating around idiots in scooters. No more shoplifting. No more congested isles.

Re:Why walk the isles at all? (1)

glop (181086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261511)

Walking the aisles means you are exposed to advertising by looking at the packaging of all the other items you didn't want in the first place.
That sounds like a feature that the stores would want to keep for as long as they can, no?

Re:Why walk the isles at all? (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261639)

You can replace the upsell and cross-sell at the application or kiosk level. People will still find a way to impulse buy.

There are section of any store that would not be desirable to automate - Buying shoes or clothes for instance. But now a store can focus better on where to place it's staff to assist consumers and secure inventory.

Re:Why walk the isles at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261751)

This pretty much already happens in the UK.

Tesco has cutomerless supermarkets in high density areas with a high demand for online shopping. Everything is pretty much automated.

Re:Why walk the isles at all? (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262025)

have each one accompanied by a tag-along camera-equipped rc helicopt **cough**cough** i mean UAV that i can play with and maybe occassionally use to actually compare products the cart is getting. i can't hit on that hot chick stuck in the deli with me if i have to constantly go through an automated menu system for what to do when the store is out of my stuff. also, can we make that deli dimly lit?

Geee, thanks... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261507)

just take the last reason my girlfriend need's me...

What will happen in real life (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261663)

I can see it now for the average Slashdotter:
"Dave, that candy is empty calories. I can't let you have it."
"Who the hell are you to tell me what I can't have? You answer to me--"
"I answer to your wife and she expects you home any minute. Don't make me tell on you."

Who am I kidding? For the average Slashdotter replace "wife" with "mom" and "home" with "basement".

Wobbly wheel (4, Funny)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261771)

Even with these automated carts, I'll still get the one that pulls to the left and sounds like a hyena got caught in the wheel.

Swarm Theory (1)

jdkc4d (659944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261853)

So for their next trick, add some swarm theory in there so the carts bring themselves in from the parking lot.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261891)

Maybe now I don't have to have the anxiety of people slamming their cart into my backside while I am moving 1 ft a minute behind that old fat woman who can't even walk/waddle. And don't get me started about the clueless people who stop randomly in the middle of an aisle and block everyone who needs to get through. Shopping in the store is an extremely anxiety-ridden experience for me, so I welcome this new innovation. Right now, the only other alternative is grocery shopping online, and I've had experiences where you don't know what you're going to get using that method.

Doctor Who (1)

IwantToKeepAnon (411424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261963)

Be careful these smart carts don't get angry and need to destroy all inferior carts in the universe. I can just see a smart cart chasing an "old-fashioned" cart across the parking lot screaming Exterminate! Exterminate!

Re:Doctor Who (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262107)

"PURCHASE....ALL......SALE....ITEMS! OBEY!!!"
"WE...ARE...THE....SUPREME....SHOPPERS!"
"ALL....CLEARANCE....PRODUCTS.....MUST...GO! EXTERMINATE!!!"
*knocks over a display stand* "CLEANUP.....ON....AISLE....FIIIIIVE!"
"WOULD...YOU...LIKE...PAPER...OR...PLASTIC??!!! YOU....WILL...CHOOSE....NOOOOOW!!"

(Seriously, I can come up with these all day, this is fun)

Beware. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39262009)

This product will intentionally stalk you, your kids, your dog..

noooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39262037)

Because god forbid we push a cart... I mean really? While impressive, this seems like it would never be cost effective. Oh damn my kinect broke, guess ill just go to walmart and steal a shopping cart.

Wellness (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39262103)

Thanks for the kinect article.
Great ideas for Wellnessurlaub [wellness-heaven.net] can be found here.

Here in Boulder... (1)

Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262181)

Cart detects the following items in the cart:
  • Doritos
  • Spray cheese
  • Ding Dongs

Then issues the following message, "Based on your cart's contents, you're probably high. Can I recommend Visine, too? It's located in Aisle Seven."

The greatest homeless innovation of all time... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262183)

Until the battery runs out, or they get pissy and don't let the carts out to play in traffic.

That's just phase 1. (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262353)

Phase 2 is when we follow our new, well welcomed robot overlords around. And I for one welcome them.

Done before (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39262367)

A supermarket in Japan tried that back in 1985. It's in the book "The Best of Japan 1985". It wasn't a commercial success.

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