Emerging Tech

Intelligent carts alert shoppers of junk food overload

Most of the time, technology is very beneficial, especially when it saves you time, energy, and money. However, there are times when technology is a royal pain in the aisle, which is what I think of the new "intelligent" trolleys.

Most of the time, technology is very beneficial, especially when it saves you time (online shopping vs. hours at the mall), energy (the Roomba vs. the push-it-yourself vacuum), and money (digital cameras vs. spending tons of money on film and photo processing).

However, there are times when technology is a royal pain in the aisle, which is what I think of the new "intelligent" trolleys (or shopping carts, for people outside of the United Kingdom) in London that warn people when they're selecting too much junk food. Check out the Reuters' story: "High tech shop trolleys could help watch waistlines."

According to the article:

...the high-tech model will be fitted with a computer screen and barcode scanner. It will read each product's individual code to give customers information about calories, nutrition, ethical sourcing and the environment.

Sion Roberts, director of consumer industries and retail at U.S. technology services company EDS, claims, "Shoppers want barcode readers on their trolleys to calculate the nutritional content and tell them when they have blown their calorific budget."

Personally, that's the last thing I'd want while I'm shopping. As if my own conscience isn't loud or annoying enough! In fact, a lot of married couples end in divorce because communication like this.

What do you think of the new "intelligent" shopping carts?

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

11 comments
HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

so in turn one COULD eat some junk food once in a while. I'm a shopper and I know what to look for in food, regarding fat, calorie, corn syrup, and other forms of content. I don't need a hand-held computer, scanner, magic wand, broom driving hooker, or anything else. It's interesting, our society. Companies create products, made and sold solely for "ease of use" (whether we want it, or told we want it which in turn compels us to change our mindset TO want it). Then they chide us for being too stupid (particularly when it comes to 'offshoring' jobs to countries that can't seem to do the job as good as we could)... Besides, with peoples' insanely hectic schedules, they're more liable to go to the troughs at MacGarbage or Burger Slop and pork up there. It's faster AND easier than to make a home cooked meal with carefully vetted ingredients.

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

New "intelligent" trolleys (or shopping carts, for people outside of the United Kingdom) in London warn people when they're selecting too much junk food. What do you think of the new "intelligent" shopping carts?

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

I've been diagnosed with a fairly large sized kidney stone in my left kidney and have to stick to a strict diet of home cooked and bland foods. Not to say that I used to eat plenty of junk food before, but I guess it takes a serious medical condition for some people to quickly change their eating habits.

sfoley
sfoley

I think it is great because our lives are already busy enough without having to do all this tedious calculations ourselves of the nutrition content of every food. It starts to bring something to your consciousness that you previously ignored at the time it is most critical to pay attention--when you are buying the food. I hope they add a calculator to show how much you are spending in total as well!

Sand Tech
Sand Tech

Its great idea for advertisement, imagine how many over weight people that do shop at COSTCO and WALMART, with the trend of weight watch. Might buy more expensive product with the warning of that specific product, giving other a like healthy items. I guess weight loss bills will be using this technology to advertise.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

when they ring it all up, they hand you bagfulls of nutritional info for everything that you bought, and a loud broadcast that you are eating unhealthy... Aside from that, I wouldnt worry much about it, it will probably cost too much for most stores to utilize anyway.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

I read labels for nutrition, calorie and sodium information. The convenience would come from simply scanning the barcode and reading the information in one location on the cart instead of having to locate the data on the label/product. It seems like it might save time. Nag warnings for me? Who cares? Almost everything I really like is bad for me and I've successfully ignored warnings for decades. My paranoid persona can just see it being made mandatory to scan the items and all that could possibly ensue from that.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

that it states that 1/3 of shoppers want the barcode scanner. How many of them had even thought about it at all before they were asked and given a 1 sided speil about it? This may not be too bad though, to read a barcode, they would need to turn the package to face the reader. If you dont do it, it tells you nothing! And finally, I doubt that they will do it overnight, more likely they will watch the usage in several places, by putting out some of these carts and some others without the 'upgrade'.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

So I can see the price and see if the nit-wit who put on the price tag did so incorrectly. Amongst other gaffes, which are more common than I'd care to reflect upon right now. There's nothing wrong in looking at labels and figuring it out for one's self. Of course, if it became electronic, that space being wasted to post nutrient value could be replaced with adverts for more junk (food, "collectibles", or otherwise)...

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

where the average "shopper" weighs in at an average of 500lbs and insists on stuffing his/her face with all sorts of junkfood and other crap. Such people are then on the news because they have to be extracted from their own homes by a construction crane when they can no longer squeeze through the door opening.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

Truthfully it's like that in any grocery store around here. I swear, if they did a study locally I'd bet that 70% to 80% of people are at least overweight if not obese. Wait 'til grocery stores go to RFID chips on all products. It'd be kind of funny to hear some "svelte" 300 pounder's shopping cart warn them.

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