British grocery chain Tesco has partnered with programing firm Keytree to create what appears to be the closest people can get to shopping in a grocery store without actually being there. The software, Mail Online reports, shows a near perfect recreation of a typical Tesco store, with aisles of goods stacked neatly on shelves. Users can browse each aisle and can turn to look at particular goods and see the prices labeled under each just as is done in a real store. But, adds POPAI, what’s really interesting is how users do their shopping on the system, through the use of a Microsoft Kinect gaming device. Tesco has posted a video demo of the system on YouTube.
The Kinect device, Online explains, allows shoppers to pull merchandise from shelves using hand movements in the air that mimic what they would do were they actually at a store. Products can be turned and looked at from all sides, giving a sense of size and a little bit of the texture. If a user wishes to make a purchase they simple toss the item into their shopping cart just as they always would. The difference being that they don’t have to drive to the store and actually push that car. Also, because the shopping experience is virtual, users/customers get a running total of their purchases so they don’t have to guess as they meander throughout a store.
POPAI adds that another really neat feature of the software is that custom shelves can be created automatically in a section of the virtual store that hold only those items that a particular customer tends to buy on a regular basis, saving them the trouble of having to wander through the aisles looking for each one. Customers can also ask to have particular products to their custom shelf is so desired as well.
Checkout is much easier in the virtual store than in real life as there is no waiting in line, no waiting for items to be rung up and for bagging. Customers simply indicate that they are ready to check out and a screen pops up asking questions such as which form of payment they want to use, and where would they like the groceries delivered and when.
Sadly, the system is not yet ready for primetime, though Tesco promises that it will be very shortly, they say they have a few kinks to work out first. But what’s probably most interesting about the whole system is that it will likely catch on like wildfire, meaning stores all over the world will likely very soon offer similar systems as well, making going to the grocery store, a thing of the past.