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Tech & Science

This smart shopping cart is a self-service checkout on wheels

The Verge logo The Verge 11/01/2019 Jon Porter
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A couple of days ago, we reported that Kroger and Microsoft were working on a smart shopping solution that uses your phone to scan groceries as you shop. Now, a startup called Caper Labs has taken that idea a step further, and it has built both scanning hardware and a payment terminal directly into a shopping cart, reports TechCrunch. It’s even got a small touchscreen designed to help you navigate the store and advertise relevant promotions.

At the moment, the cart’s scanner acts like a traditional barcode reader as you shop, but the company plans to eventually make the process a lot more seamless, thanks to a weight sensor and three image recognition cameras that are built into the cart. You should be able to forget that your items are being automatically scanned at all. Frankly, so long as it doesn’t complain about unexpected items in its bagging area, we’ll be happy.

a close up of a handcart © Image: Caper Labs Fewer cashiers, fewer lines, and a digital map of the store

The obvious benefit for supermarkets is that they’ll need fewer cashiers to ring up sales, but there are also a couple of benefits for shoppers. As well as being able to skip the queue, the cart’s touchscreen can point out nearby items that are on sale, and it could one day recommend purchases based on items you’ve already put it your cart. Its built-in tablet can also act as a map of a store.

Caper’s shopping cart is already installed in two retailers in the New York City area, which the company claims are seeing increased sales as a result of using them. They might not be quite as seamless as Amazon Go’s “just walk out technology,” but they’re also a lot less complicated than the hundreds of cameras and weight sensors needed to make its stores work.

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