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HP looks to the future of shopping

Fledgling system from HP Labs combines servers, printing and imaging technology to eliminate coupons and customize the buying experience.

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Despite the digitization of nearly everything else in our daily lives, the Sunday circular ad for beef and bags of baby carrots has remained. Hewlett-Packard is developing a technology to bring even the banal task of grocery shopping into the Digital Age.

At HP Labs here, researchers are developing an in-store kiosk solution called Retail Shopping Assistant (RSA) that will make shopping for food, clothes and electronics easier for buyers and make selling things easier for retailers.

HP Retail Store Assistant
HP Retail Store Assistant Erica Ogg/CNET

The idea is this: imagine walking into a grocery store, and instead of bringing your shopping list along, simply swiping a club card or entering a phone number. Any information you've entered online from home (milk, eggs, pretzels, ground beef, apples) will show up on your profile. There will also be special offers tailored to your shopping habits--your club card already keeps track of the fact that you prefer Diet Pepsi to Coke, and that you buy a carton of eggs every other week. The kiosk simply matches your info with retailer offers to generate the appropriate coupons.

The RSA kiosk will then create a printed list of special discounts and shopping items. On the back will be a map of the store and the location of all of the items, eliminating the need to comb every aisle of a store. And instead of fumbling for coupon clippings, a single barcode on the printout will track the customized offers and remove items from the shopping list that were purchased.

If a printed piece of paper is too cumbersome, HP says the list and information could also be transferred by Bluetooth technology to a mobile device, like a phone.

To read the full CNET story on this innovation, click here.