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Future Cart

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The next generation of shopping carts will be smart -- maybe even smarter than some shoppers. A handful of Whole Foods Market stores are testing a prototype of a new motorized shopping cart outfitted with a Windows 8 tablet, UPC scanner and a motion sensor from Microsoft’s Xbox360 Kinect technology. According to PC Magazine, “The motorized carts can identify a shopper with their loyalty card, follow the individual around the store without having to be pushed and guide them to the items they want. The cart can also scan items as they are placed inside the cart, mark items off a shopping list and check the shopper out.” The prototype, called Smarter Cart, is being developed for Whole Foods by Austin-based Chaotic Moon. Basically, a shopper uploads her shopping list to the tablet and then walks around the store – followed by the shopping cart. As items are placed in the cart, the customer scans the barcode and the tablet keeps track of what’s been purchased, being sure to precisely match the items on the list. The cart can even detect when a shopper has picked up the wrong item. Once the shopping trip is complete, the cart checks the shopper out automatically -- no waiting necessary. Ideally the cart will shorten the amount of time shoppers spend in the store, and developers say it will ease the overall shopping experience.