Earlier this year, Whole Foods - the natural and organic food retailer - unveiled a prototype of its Smarter Cart, a trolley which uses an attached tablet computer and Kinect technology to monitor the grocery items being placed inside it.
The trolley is designed to help shoppers manage their weekly shop and is being trialled in Austin, Texas (with the company saying that, if it proves successful, it will seek a wider US roll-out). Using an RFID scanner, the Smarter Cart keeps track of items being selected by a customer, checking them off their list of wanted products as they move through the aisles. In addition, it keeps a running tally of the total cost and will also make recommendations about recipes or supplementary products that might complement the shopper’s list. Perhaps most interestingly, though, it will also issue alerts if a shopper selects a product by mistake (eg normal pasta instead of gluten-free).
Is this the beginning of a revolution in the way we manage our weekly grocery shops? Could shopping carts of the future warn us when the products we've chosen exceed our recommended or personally desired targets for salt/sugar/carbs? Or will consumers simply embrace the budgeting and convenience elements of such a device while maintaining much greater control over their product choices? Is this, in fact, an over-complication of an otherwise simple task? We'd love to hear your views.