There are so many innovative uses being developed for Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor system and the Gadget Helpline likes to keep up with the latest exciting and interesting ways the once humble Xbox 360 gaming controller is being used in practical ways to make our lives much easier and to benefit research and studies.
There are reports today of Microsoft’s efforts in partnership with Whole Foods Market and developer Chaotic Moon to create a shopping trolley uses the Kinect to follow a customer around the store and senses what gets put in the cart to be sure we stock up on all our grocery need and stick to what’s on the list!
An event was put on at the Redmond base of Microsoft to show off how far the tech has come along and Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie has demonstrated the trolley in a video. Standing to face the front of a trolley which has a display attached to the handle bar with Kinect sensor on top, the chap drops in an item. The trolley thanks him in a robotic voice and remarks that he has a couple of items on his shopping list and offers to “load” them. Mundie agrees with a yes and the trolley excited responds “Let’s go shopping!” before somewhat creepily tailing him remotely for a short distance across the floor.
The trolley at this point stubbornly refuses to turn at its master’s request, so shrugging the embarrassment the host moves onto loading items into the cart. Adding the first item the sensor tech recognises the product as Pesto Basil and checks it off the shopping list. The researcher then adds some spaghetti to his order, to which the trolley enquires that on his list he specified that this item be gluten-free. Not only is the trolley useful in checking the list, it’ll also throw out advice and make sure the items you buy are actually the right ones for you and to your specific requirements. The trolley can also direct the customer to certain areas and aisles, acting as a virtual store clerk.
It’s a fascinating use for the Kinect and one of the hundreds of commercial applications being developed worldwide for the Microsoft sensor tech. We’re hoping these carts hit Britain at some point in the near future. Trolley races will have never been so much fun – and imagine all the fun you’d have on Supermarket Sweep!