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Interactive Shelving

That thin slice of shelf that faces consumers with analogue pricing information can be brought into the 21st century as a read/write communication between man and food. A new potential to display data about food far beyond price.

Photo of James McBennett
21 15

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Following on from Tom Hulme's idea "Window to the farm" /open/localfood/concepting/window-to-the-farm/
I have looked into modifying the supermarket shelf.

A low cost version using only LED lights and basic controls could be made, but a full on touchscreen would create a rich media platform for consumers and producers to have a conversation.

Microsoft provide us with an interesting digital future supermarket in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81PHzOrGfHU at 0:55 a man reduces product pricing on a tablet, altering price of all items in the store, updating the shelves digital screens.

Default display might be price, but upon touching the screens one see more information, changing the display of the individual product, or the entire food group on the shelves. For example, a customer might switch the displays from price to 'distance traveled to market' changing the entire shelf to temporarily display miles, not price. 

Other options include..
1. Customer feedback and comments.
2. Like buttons.
3. Share this product on your facebook/twitter.
4. Price History
5. (@ Meena Kadri) Nutritional Comparison between products
6. (@ Meena Kadri) Goes Well With... (customer vetted?)
7. (@ Meena Kadri) Hyper-local Index (yet to be invented? but to include distance, collaboration between producers, *local* recycle, repurpose, up-cycling, etc)
8.(@ Meena Kadri)Search a specific shelf for a particular ingredient. (Useful for those with Allergies.)
10: Third party recommendations. What does the Guardian Newspaper or Jamie Oliver recommend or the Goodguide.



Look forward to your comments..

21 comments

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Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Great concept James. There are so many relevant applications in terms of the kind of information people would love to have about the food on the supermarket shelves. Has anyone suggested recipe ideas?

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Another option could be: toxic, allergenic, carcinogenic, or other harmful properties ingredients (and their %).

Photo of James McBennett

and a gradient of colour indicating when goods are going out of date...

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

Right, that too :)

Photo of James McBennett

RFID Food. Speed shopping at the supermarket. Great video to explain the concept.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eob532iEpqk&feature=related

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Oh, this is brilliant. So many possibilities! This could bring the information of so many of the concepts discussed directly to the shelf. Would be great position to display for example my 'What's the Foodprint' concept. Or a GoodGuide rating.
Thank you for bringing a new angle to the challenge.

Photo of James McBennett

Thanks Arjan, Agreed that an interactive shelf (and a smartphone) have the power to become platforms for ideas to be built upon. Feeling strongly that the next decade will see the hybridisation of the material and virtual world, both of these devices indeed provide so many possibilities.

I have included links to

'What's the Foodprint'
http://openideo.com/open/localfood/concepting/what-s-the-foodprint/

Goodguide - What's behind the product.
http://openideo.com/open/localfood/inspiration/goodguide-what-s-behind-this-product/

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Yes, I also feel strongly about the benefits of merging online and off! Anyway, have you noticed the 'Related inspirations/concepts' function? Then you don't need to include links, but just simply select them. For a short how-to, see this vid I made: http://openideo.zendesk.com/entries/507304-connecting-inspirations-and-concepts-to-each-other

Photo of James McBennett

Doing it now...(nice video btw!!)
 Thanks!

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Thanks!

Photo of Sarah Fathallah

+1 Arjan. Great idea, with so much potential!

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

This is a great idea! Shelving is a great point to start with and I love your updates and the builts!

Photo of Johan Löfström

this could also become a tool to assist persons with poor sight: type in the item you are looking for in this aisle. and a blinking LED will start to flash/flicker where this product is placed, for at least 10 seconds (or until i stand in front of the LED and pick up a carton or bag of this item)

Photo of James McBennett

I did my final project in my undergrad very like this idea. Was a library project, where one searched for a book on a library computer, and a path of LED's lit up the floor, walls, and shelves directing a reader to his book, a 10 second (or longer) delay. I didn't think how similar that concept is to this until now! I think I really want to reinvent the shelf!

Thanks!

Photo of James McBennett

Also watch the microsoft video link, they have a nice smartphone option for this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81PHzOrGfHU

Photo of Meena Kadri

Hello? Genius!

I'd be keen to add buttons like –

a. Nutritional Comparison between products
b. Goes Well With... (customer vetted?)
c. Hyper-local Index (yet to be invented?
but to include distance, collaboration between producers,
*local* recycle, repurpose, up-cycling, etc)

Also as someone with a truck-load of allergies, I'd like to be able to search a specific shelf for a particular ingredient. eg. When I'm down blowing my hard earned pesos at the organic store, I have to trawl through all the chocolate brands to try and find one that suits. If I could just suit the one sweetener I can tolerate, would make the whole experience much less torturous.

Photo of James McBennett

Colloboration is genius! Love this comment! Will update the idea later today.

Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Hey James, I recommend you take a look at Andreas Petsas' concept, What's My Food Story. It focuses mainly on providing sourcing information about food at restaurants, but this is a definite connection. Maybe you can add his concept to the building on section to boost your points and his.

http://openideo.com/open/localfood/concepting/what-s-my-food-s-story/

Photo of Pamela Steiner

I like this idea alot - the idea of bringing transparency to where consumers need it and want it.- instead of having to go online and research everything or stare at my smartphone.

And maybe this isn't something food producers opt-in to but their food's 'stats' are posted and available to consumers regardless. That way we know that boxed mix on the grocery shelf in Omaha has bleached wheat powder from mexico and cocoa flavoring from south america, and on and on and on....

would be an incentive to producers and supplier to have a nicer message of package contents...

great job!

Photo of James McBennett

I haven't yet read Seth Godin's book "Purple Cow", but I hear that he makes the argument that "advertising is dead" given the ease that information spreads today. If you have a good product (the purple cow), you will succeed, people will talk about it, like it, spread it and use it.

Those who do not have a good product will not succeed in this century, those who depended on advertising a product or service that was sub-standard, a strategy that much to my amazement worked in the past.

In this idea above, I guess I would like to celebrate the "purple cows," The changes in the system will encourage and incentivise organisations to become and behave better, to become purple cows.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Ah, the purple cow is not only about being good, but about being remarkable. It's a bit the story from mass to niche in a way. Aim for the niche and find the big profit there. Something like that. It's a highly readable (and remarkable) book, and you'd finish it in a good sunday afternoon reading session :)