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Smart cart helps you shop

Are long checkout lines about to go the way of the manual cash register?

Fujitsu hopes so. The company has developed a wireless, shopping cart-mounted computer featuring scan-as-you-shop technology. The U-Scan Shopper tallies items as they're loaded into the cart, alerts shoppers to specials and reminds them what they bought on their last visit. Fujitsu unveiled the product Wednesday at the 2005 Retail Business Technology Expo in Sydney. Australian shoppers could see it in stores as early as 2006, and U.S. retailers are reportedly getting ready to roll out the system as well.

U-Scan Shopper

Among other tricks, the U-Scan Shopper lets consumers upload their shopping lists to a store's Web site before they leave home, then download the list at the store. Backed by a network of in-store sensors, the system then warns users when they're approaching an item they want to buy. The system--whose browser-based application runs on Microsoft Windows CE .Net--includes a customer loyalty tool that delivers customized in-store ad campaigns and discount offers that correspond to shoppers' preferences and their location in the store.

When they're done shopping, consumers pay the amount displayed on their cart's computer. But to ensure that buyers cough up what they should, at least in the early stages following the launch, Fujitsu said checkout attendants may also "audit" the products in the cart to make sure they match with those paid for by the customer.