Shopping cart goes high-tech

LONDON Tue Oct 9, 2007 3:40pm EDT

Cherry tomatoes and hot peppers are displayed for sale at the Food Project's Farmer's Market in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts, August 14, 2007. Supermarket shoppers may soon be cruising the aisles with ''intelligent'' shopping carts that warn them if they're buying too much junk food, technology experts say. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Cherry tomatoes and hot peppers are displayed for sale at the Food Project's Farmer's Market in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts, August 14, 2007. Supermarket shoppers may soon be cruising the aisles with ''intelligent'' shopping carts that warn them if they're buying too much junk food, technology experts say.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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LONDON (Reuters) - Supermarket shoppers may soon be cruising the aisles with "intelligent" shopping carts that warn them if they're buying too much junk food, technology experts say.

While many would be happy enough if they could simply get their trolley to go in a straight line, the high-tech model will be fitted with a computer screen and barcode scanner.

It will read each product's individual code to give customers information about calories, nutrition, ethical sourcing and the environment.

U.S. technology services company EDS outlined the concept in a study paper published this week.

It said the screens would reduce the need for lots of packaging for food, helping stores to tackle environmental concerns.

"Shoppers want barcode readers on their trolleys (shopping carts) to calculate the nutritional content and tell them when they have blown their calorific budget," said EDS's Sion Roberts, director of consumer industries and retail.

"It's high-time that the humble barcode is recognized as a practical and cost-effective solution to consumers' thirst for information."

Research carried out by food industry body IGD on behalf of EDS found that a third of shoppers want barcode scanners fitted to their carts.

Most prefer to get information from labels on the food, according to the survey of nearly 1,000 people.

Some shoppers are already using advanced carts. Trials of touch-screen computers on shopping carts have been trialed in stores in the U.S.

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