UK supermarket chain Tesco, have reported that they are experimenting on a new shopping experience, using your iPhone and iPad. They are already trialling a “scan-as-you-shop” system, in a store in Romford, Essex using specially developed handheld scanners. These are used to scan your shopping as you walk around the store, and you can just simply check out at the cashier. Nick Lansley, head of Tesco’s research and development, said that these scanners are likely to roll out nationwide in early 2011. Lansley also added, that his team are looking into implementing similar technology into iPhones and iPads.

The R&D department set about deploying the same technology to an iPhone. We wanted to prove that we could do it without any real change to our checkout systems.

There are several wireless access points in the ceilings of Tesco stores, which staff already use for communication with each other.

If you know where the access points are, and the application programming interface (API) also knows, it could download the Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of those access points which are the basic identifier for a location within a store.

He explains that using these wireless access points, they can determine where the customer is located in store, which can then be used to navigate them to specific products, or show the user relevant offers in the isle they are currently in.

The API could listen to the relative signals from the access points that it can sense, and from that, triangulate where you are.”

Unfortunately, he added that reflections from certain things within the store, like metals and shelving, may disrupt these signals, however his R&D would look into resolving this.

We don’t know if it’s going to work - that’s what the R&D process is for.

Are there any TiPb readers who think they would highly benefit if this was implemented in their local supermarket?

by George Lim