Thing a Week 45: Daisy the Shopping Cart

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You arrive at your favorite store: Walmart, Target, Macy’s, IKEA, Costco, etc. You grab a smart cart from the front and swipe your phone over an NFC sensor next to an unobtrusive touchscreen screen on the handlebars to authenticate yourself.

“Welcome to Walmart, Andrew,” the cart says with a friendly R2-D2 beep. “I’m Daisy. What can I help you find?”

You’re given a few large buttons to help you shop. First, you choose to import your shopping list from your phone and swipe the NFC sensor again to send it. Your shopping list appears on the cart’s screen in checklist form, ready for you to swipe through it and check stuff off as you grab it.

But you’re new to this Walmart (or they’ve recently reorganized the store, as is life) and you don’t know where everything is. You switch to a map-based view of your shopping list and are presented with a simple floor plan of the store: among the outlines of aisles and areas, you see your items located throughout the store and represented on the map with checkboxes at their location for easy checking-off from this view, too.

You toggle on the directions feature and the optimal route from your location through every item on your list is highlighted on the map. You want to look up some pasta dinner recipes on your phone while you shop, so you enable autopilot and the cart drives beside you, keeping pace with you as you walk.

You almost bump into a cart coming around the corner of an aisle, but a soft R2-D2 beep from Daisy warns you to look up as it stops itself just shy of the corner and avoids a collision.

As you pass by each item on your list and toss it into your cart, you check it off on the map and see a price total accumulating on the screen. When you forget to check off milk (but grab it anyway), your cart notices a weight difference and asks you nicely, “Hi Andrew, did you get the milk already?”

You decide on the perfect pasta dinner and put your hands on the cart’s handlebars to turn autopilot off. The highlighted route on your map unobtrusively continues to update in real time as you diverge from it, freely perusing the store’s bakery section to find something extra to make the meal extra great.

You decide on some nice Italian bread and notice on your cart’s screen that customers that purchase pasta and this bread also often purchase a particular kind of Alfredo sauce, and that it’s on sale today for 30% off. You add it to your list and it’s added to your route immediately.

The meal will be great, and now you have everything for it. As you approach the front of the store, Daisy reminds you, “The eggs you bought two weeks ago should be bad by now. Consider buying more.” You’re not planning to have eggs this week, but you make a mental note to throw the ones you have out when you get home.

“Thanks,” you say. The cart beeps back.

You reach the front of the store and retrieve your phone from your pocket one final time after poking the big, green CHECK OUT button at the bottom of your cart’s screen. It shows you an itemized receipt and your total, and you swipe your phone over the NFC sensor to pay. A green LED lights up on the front of your cart and you walk out of the store.

After you finish unloading your groceries into your car, you send off the cart with a final tap of the screen.

The cart beeps in that familiar R2-D2 tone and cheers, “Thank you Andrew! I hope to see you again soon!” before driving itself back to the front of the store, ready to help another customer.

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