Future grocery stores will be full of smart technology, according to predictions by the designers at Carlo Ratti Associati. Carlo Ratti is the founder of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable Lab. Last year, his team unveiled prototypical technology through its Future Food District installation at the Milan World Expo. That same technology is now up and running in the city’s “supermarket of the future”, placed within a newly built location of Coop Italia, the country’s largest supermarket chain.
The 10,000-square-foot store is a real-world experiment following through on prototypes CRA created for Milan’s World Expo 2015. The chic store features wider-than-average aisles, smart shelves and real time data visualizations to promote a more pleasant and better informed shopping experience.
Inside the store, over 6,000 products are displayed on interactive tables. As grocery shopper approaches a product, motion sensors detect their presence and activate a suspended digital display above, where extra information is revealed. The product information displays are a seamless augmented reality experience for the shoppers, who don’t need to use a separate device or take any additional actions in order to access the information. All they need to do is reach for what they want, and then look up.
According to Ratti, this project is all about helping the products communicate with the consumer. Among the information displayed to consumers about each product are nutritional properties, its origin, the presence of allergens, waste disposal instructions, correlated products and promotions, as well as other data that consumers may never have thought to ask about. “Every product has a precise story to tell ,” said Ratti in a statement. “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.”
Images via Michele Versaci and Inres via CRA