Getting your groceries done can be a pain, and if you’re an introvert, you probably also hate the chore because of all the incessant human interactions that occur during a trip to the supermarket. What aisle are the sodas located? Do you have more of these granola bars in the stock room? Why is the canned chicken noodle soup on sale but not the same brand for clam chowder? Not to worry: Microsoft has partnered with third-party developer Chaotic Moon to create a shopping experience with a Kinect shopping cart system to minimize the need to talk to real, live people.
Developed for use at Whole Foods, the prototype shopping cart contains a Microsoft Kinect with a screen that watches the way you shop. Before making the trip, consumers can create a profile with their loyalty cards and preprogram their grocery lists and dietary constraints and preferences. Then, when they get to Whole Foods, a Kinect shopping cart will physically follow them around as they parade the aisles for food items. The shopping cart will also scan products as shoppers place them into the cart, and chime in if it recognizes when a shopper elects to buy something outside of their dietary restraints. When shoppers are ready to check out, the cart rings them up and charges their accounts, leaving no need to chat with a human employee. You can tell the shopping cart “Goodbye,” but it won’t greet you back and instead display a quiet “Thank You” note on the screen. Pretty convenient, but seems a little eerie.
The prototype definitely shows some promise, but we can imagine some chaos to ensue with hundreds of shoppers walking around in the same room and the shopping carts having to remember who they are following. Since the shoppers have to walk ahead of the cart, we wonder if the Kinect carts will recognize its surroundings enough to not slam into another person or cart. We also envision that a couple of Kinects talking aloud at the same time in one busy supermarket can also be a rather frustrating an experience as well.
Seeing the way Kinect systems have been applied outside of the gaming realm to accommodate today’s lifestyle has been an interesting trend. Medical schools are attempting to implement a way for students to practice hypothetical surgeries with a Kinect, and the home protection industry has used the machine to test facial recognition in security cameras. The rise of Seamless food ordering system and other forms of online shopping also prove people prefer to buy things without having to talk to someone, whether in person or on the phone. Unfortunately, there are no words yet on when you might see a Kinect shopping cart at your nearest Whole Foods. What do you think? Would you use this Kinect cart?
Image Credit: Geekwire