One of the most hectic tasks in a man’s life is to go grocery shopping on his own. Checking out the list and looking for each item shelf by shelf until they eventually find the item or get to know that it is out of stock, is both annoying and frustrating. It can also mean lost sales when customers fail to find what they require and leave without buying anything at all. With a plan to help both the customers and the shopkeepers, a Germany-based findbox GmbH has developed the findbox, a device like a kiosk that can scan items and packaging and let the shoppers know if their required item is available, leading them to the right peg.
For operation, you take a sample of anything you want, like any item or its packaging and place it on the kiosk tray, where a multi-camera system scans it and create a 3D mesh, build up using multiple images. It is in turn analyzed by the Findbox to look for colors, logos, texts and shapes, which are then searched for on an online database for a match.
According to its manufacturers, Findbox requires only three seconds to find a match and if none is found, there’s a manual search option using the on-screen keyboard provided, failing that it finds you alternatives for the required product or offer to get it delivered to your home. It can also suggest complementary items.
An optional add-on is Findbox’s LightGuide, an “intelligent price tag” that is linked wirelessly to the kiosk. On each product hook in the shop there’s a small, self-contained LED light. When there’s a match found, the appropriate light turns on and guides the customer to the desired item. The LED labels work like wireless radio (868 MHz) communications, including the onboard battery that is estimated to last from 3 to 5 years, depending on usage.
Advancing a little bit further, Findbox also offers an app where one can upload a picture of the product and it informs you about which shops have the required product. The app scans the online Findbox database for the match. As a plus feature, the Findbox also keeps track of the store’s inventory and helps in properly re-shelving the stock and notifies when an item is needed to be reordered.
“Findbox offers an unrivaled service without which no retail store will be able to survive in the future,” says Michael Unmüßig, co-founder and managing director of Findbox. “Just think of the buzz word Internet of Things that includes RFID technology. With Findbox we go an essential step further and close the gap between real and virtual shopping in an intelligent way.”
The price tag on this Findbox system is of €200 and €300 (US$260 and US$388) monthly.