A cyber-pal of mine sent me a story today about grocery stores that use scanning technology to help customers speed up their shopping trip. This technology is more common in Europe, but its use is taking hold here too.
Basically, you point a personal scanner at each item and then place the item in a bag. So by the time you are done, you have a tally of what you’ve bought and your groceries are already bagged. Just pay at a terminal and you’re out of the store.
Wow! That sounds great. Who wouldn’t like to spend less time in line and more time…well, not in line?
But wait. My luddite tendencies are fighting to get to the surface. Isn’t this just one more place for technology to try to force it’s way into the daily routine of my life? I who still don’t own a cell phone actually like shopping for food partly because it’s so low-tech. Do I really want to be bombarded by scanners and intelligent carts in one of my last untouched sanctuaries of humanity?
OK. OK. The checkout is already using scanners and it’s a lot faster than the old days when you had to wait for a price check or worry about dyslexic entries. But at least now I don’t have to do the work.
And speaking of doing the work…while they say employee jobs aren’t threatened since they’re deployed elsewhere, it’s so hard for me to believe that the cost of this technology won’t eventually be off-set by fewer employees – or higher prices.
But what worries me most is the idea of ads. “Plano, Texas-based Media Cart Holdings Inc. also offers a ‘kiosk on wheels’ system that includes a cart-attached screen that flashes relevant ads as users walk through the aisles.” UGH! I know there are point-of-sale ads all over, but does it have to flash on my cart??? What’s next? Contact lenses that flash ads? (Oh lord…I hope no advertiser is reading this.)