Good Thinking

Futuristic supermarket feeds the need for product info

The Supermarket of the Future uses interactive tables to display useful information on more than 6,000 products
The Supermarket of the Future uses interactive tables to display useful information on more than 6,000 products
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The Supermarket of the Future uses interactive tables to display useful information on more than 6,000 products
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The Supermarket of the Future uses interactive tables to display useful information on more than 6,000 products
The Supermarket of the Future uses a mirror display to present product info
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The Supermarket of the Future uses a mirror display to present product info
Food info shown on the Supermarket of the Future mirror displays includes nutritional properties, place of origin, presence of allergens and waste disposal guidance
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Food info shown on the Supermarket of the Future mirror displays includes nutritional properties, place of origin, presence of allergens and waste disposal guidance
The Supermarket of the Future has touchscreens that customers can use to browse and search for products, find product promotions and view detailed product information
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The Supermarket of the Future has touchscreens that customers can use to browse and search for products, find product promotions and view detailed product information
The Supermarket of the Future touchscreens are able to display information for which there would not be space elsewhere
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The Supermarket of the Future touchscreens are able to display information for which there would not be space elsewhere
The Supermarket of the Future store information is provided to customers via a 20-m (66-ft) long wall of 54 monitors
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The Supermarket of the Future store information is provided to customers via a 20-m (66-ft) long wall of 54 monitors
The Supermarket of the Future visualization wall is used for displaying special offers, cooking suggestions and daily top selling products
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The Supermarket of the Future visualization wall is used for displaying special offers, cooking suggestions and daily top selling products
The Supermarket of the Future is in the Bicocca area of Milan, Italy
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The Supermarket of the Future is in the Bicocca area of Milan, Italy

Would you change the food you bought if you knew more about it? The Supermarket of the Future, the new flagship store of Coop Italia, has been built on the principle that you would, with interactive tables, smart shelves and real time data visualizations providing food, deals and cooking info.

The store makes use of technology developed by Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA), first demonstrated in prototype form at World Expo 2015. Where Amazon and UK supermarket Sainsbury's have focused their future store visions on making the purchasing process simpler, the Supermarket of the Future's aim is to help us make more informed and more sustainable decisions about what we buy, as well as to encourage the use of fresher, local products by educating consumers about the impacts and availability of foodstuffs.

"Every product has a precise story to tell," explains CRA founder Carlo Ratti in a press release. "Today, this information reaches the consumer in a fragmented way. But in the near future, we will be able to discover everything there is to know about the apple we are looking at: the tree it grew on, the CO2 it produced, the chemical treatments it received, and its journey to the supermarket shelf."

Based in the Bicocca area of Milan, Italy, the Coop Italia store has a footprint of 1,000 sq m (10,800 sq ft). It augments traditional physical aspects of supermarkets, like product displays, with digital elements. In this way, it is said to make the store more like an open-air market, insomuch as the vendor is able to provide extra information to buyers about the products they are selling.

The Supermarket of the Future touchscreens are able to display information for which there would not be space elsewhere
The Supermarket of the Future touchscreens are able to display information for which there would not be space elsewhere

To begin with, interactive tables are used to display more than 6,000 products. These employ Microsoft Kinect sensors to detect when a customer is moving their hand towards an item and then automatically present information about the product on a mirror display above, including nutritional properties, place of origin, presence of allergens and waste disposal guidance. Related products, product promotions and other practical purchase data can also be shown.

Store promotions and detailed product information can also be viewed on touchscreen displays described by project partner Accenture as acting like "augmented labels."

The Supermarket of the Future visualization wall is used for displaying special offers, cooking suggestions and daily top selling products
The Supermarket of the Future visualization wall is used for displaying special offers, cooking suggestions and daily top selling products

Additional store information is provided to customers via a 20-m (66-ft) long wall of 54 monitors. This is used for notifying customers about things like special offers, cooking suggestions and daily top selling products.

CRA suggests that, in the future, a free exchange area could be added to the store. Here, customers could trade home-made products, enabling everyone to act as both a producer and a consumer, while furthering the analogy of the store as a market.

The Supermarket of the Future store opens this week.

Sources: Carlo Ratti Associati, Accenture

1 comment
Bob Flint
Good old consumer is going to end up paying for this expansive area with all of the interactivity that I for one don't care to engage in. It certainly would not lower the food prices, or even convince them of any benefits either perceived or lectured about. You really think people have time to wander around and listen to more bla-bla-bla....We are the instant society remember, click, swipe, & deliver.... Fresh clean produce, no added crap needed, going to the local farmer's market...
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