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Welcome To Jetson-Style Shopping; Carts That Steer People

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[ Business]

“Hey, Jane, ask the shopping cart what aisle the potato chips are in,” George Jetson said to his wife. “Of course, Dear,” she replied.

Does this conversation sound familiar?

No. No it doesn’t. Not even close.

But it may soon be a reality at a supermarket near you.

IBM and competitor Springboard Retail Networks Inc. have released simultaneous portable computers for shopping carts.

The computers have touch screens that “will guide you to the tomatoes or toothpicks, let you order deli meat without standing in line and keep a running tally of your purchases.”

The new innovations are on display at an annual convention in Chicago, sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute.

IBM’s version, named “shopping buddy,” was test-marketed in Massachusetts grocery stores and will be released this summer.

Springboard’s “Concierge” will be tested in Canada in June and July.

Customers can make lists from online store inventories and plug them into the computer once at the store.

A map, using a “miniature global positioning satellite,” will display where the items can be found.

Or, customers can just type in “macaroni and cheese,” and same function will execute.

Items can be scanned as they are put into the cart, allowing a running tally of to-be purchased items.

The information is stored and makes for a fast checkout at self-checkout areas, as no scanning at the registered is required. The total pops up, you pay it, you bag it, you leave.

Maybe one day, a cart will tell you the shirt you’re buying is ugly before your wife does.

Welcome To Jetson-Style Shopping; Carts That Steer People
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