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‘Supermarket of the Future,' with augmented reality, opens in Milan

Lots and lots of screens

supermarket with interactive tables in Milan All photos courtesy Carlo Ratti Associati

Carlo Ratti, designer, MIT professor, and author of the book, The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life, is brimming with ideas about how data-driven tech can change our world. One of them, the concept of a smart, interactive supermarket, first presented at the World Expo in 2015, has already made it from prototype to reality.

Opened this week in Milan, Italy, “The Supermarket of the Future” debuts in the latest store of Coop Italia, the country’s largest grocery chain. The 10,800-square-foot shop holds some 6,000 products, which are all organized on interactive tables and shelves. When a customer moves to grab a specific product, relevant information such as nutritional value, presence of allergens, and waste disposal instructions are displayed on sleek screens suspended above as “augmented labels.”

A separate wall of over 50 monitors also form a huge screen for displaying additional information, all aimed at promoting more conscious and sustainable consumption. There, customers can check out top selling products, cooking suggestions, and more. In a press release, Ratti says, “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.”

This isn’t the only supermarket innovation of late. Last week, Amazon announced it’s developing a type of grocery store where customers check out on an app instead of through cashiers.