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The first ‘Supermarket of the Future’ is now open for business, and it’s crazy

Published Jan 12th, 2017 12:26PM EST
shopping technology
Image: Accenture

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If you thought Amazon Go — the funky corner store concept where there are no checkouts and the store automatically bills you for whatever you walk out with — would lay claim to the future of supermarket shopping unopposed, think again. Carlo Ratti, an MIT professor who founded the institution’s Senseable City Laboratory to conceptualize how technology can impact the lives of city-dwellers (and who also runs the Carlo Ratti Associati design firm) partnered with Italian grocer Coop to create what it calls a “Supermarket of the Future.” It’s a grocery store with a tech twist, and it’s now open for business.

Now open in Milan, Italy, the futuristic grocery store is like nothing that’s come before it, both in terms of tech integration and even in its layout. Products aren’t just stacked haphazardly on shelves or tossed in bins; the items are curated and meticulously, and everything from their origin to their path to the store itself is tracked and cataloged for the consumer.

When a customer wants to know more about any item of produce, like an apple or a head of lettuce, they simply hold the item up and an overhead display reveals all the important facts about it. Microsoft Kinect sensors built into the mirrored display identify the item and spit out all the vital details. Customers can see detailed information on allergens, the item’s carbon footprint, and check pricing and current store promotions related to it.

At present, the Milan store is the only such facility on the planet, but Ratti reportedly has plans to expand the concept to new stores in other countries as well.