This is a little weird and creepy in a the machines are taking over sort of way, but it also looks kind of neat.
Microsoft, Whole Foods and a company called Chaotic Moon are teaming up to build a robot shopping cart. It follows you around the store, helps you keep track of the items on your list including telling you if you grabbed the wrong one, and can even ring you up and charge you without bothering with the checkout line.
Here’s a video of it in action.
This has me thinking. I wonder if there’s a way to modify this thing to help blind people shop more independently? I love that people at most stores are willing to help and are largely good at it, but it would be cool to be able to do it myself without bothering them. But I suppose no matter what sorts of bells and whistles you add, you pretty much can’t work around one major problem. Knowing that item X is in aisle 6 is great, but how do I get there? The cart follows me, but in order to know where I am, I need to be following it. Easy enough to change you say, but when I get there, how do I know in a reasonable amount of time that I’ve grabbed the right item? There’s no way in hell I’m scanning every item on every shelf just to save a few cents here or there or to make sure I don’t buy the crappy brand of soup by accident.
Still a cool idea for the sighted set, just wish the rest of us could take advantage of it. For now I guess I’ll file it under stuff that talks for the sake of taunting us with potential usefulness.