In a page from the book of “Things You Never Thought You Needed Because You Probably Don’t” – Walmart has filed for a number of patents for emerging technology that would change the way customers shop.
Enter the smart cart – a shopping cart enabled with a sensing device that would pair with a mobile device and likely help customers navigate towards specific items.
Additionally, the concept of “drone assistants” is being explored. This set-up would allow shoppers to use a mobile device to request help and a drone would arrive to offer assistance like telling a customer how much something costs or where they can find it.
Perhaps more importantly, buried under the buzzwords, Walmart also has filed patents for warehouse technology that might have the discount retailer more closely competing with Amazon’s highly automated distribution. Gizmodo describes a pairing of patents that appear to combine automated item identification with the use of self-driving cars for delivery, perhaps a process that could take humans out of the mix when it comes to picking, placing and delivery.
So is the home of the in-store greeter planning to become overrun with robots? Who knows. Gizmodo stresses just how often these types of patents never leave the world of theory and ultimately wind up being trashed. That said, it’s an indication as to where Walmart might be headed in the great battle for consumer loyalty.
- US Patent and Trade Office Application Publication for a Sensing Device For Shopping Cart
- Walmart Considering Smart Carts, Drone Assistants