Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Supermarket Trolley Carts

05072009143I was at Cold Storage yesterday to pick up a few items, and a new gadget there caught my attention. It’s “Futurecart”. It has a LCD screen mounted at the end of the cart. That’s nothing terribly futuristic about it, but it is certainly an evolutionary development of the same old supermarket trolley carts that have served us for decades.

The new trolleys, which is known under the brand name Futurecart, feature a LCD screen which displays promotional information and targeted advertisements, which may depend on where the trolley is positioned within the supermarket. The technology it uses is nothing revolutionary. A small embedded computer with battery packs and LCD screen mounted in the trolley, wireless positioning sensors around the supermarket (RFID in the case of Futurecart), and possibly some wireless data networking capabilities.

I’m a little doubtful about how well these technology will pay off in its current form. I found myself sufficiently absorbed with my shopping errand to actually pay any attention to the LCD screen, apart from taking a photo and the initial interest in the new gadget as I pushed off the trolley.

Perhaps the system might be more useful if it could interact with the shopper. For example, a bar code scanner to scan prices of items. Or just to scan the item, so that the system could display more information about the item, or a list of comparable items, etc. Or how about a navigation system to help you find items in the supermarket.

Or stream Barney videos to keep the kids entertained. Vanessa, for example, was quite engrossed with what the LCD screen was showing. (She hadn’t noticed it was there initially…)

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