Students’ smart cart to make shopping easier

Volunteer Fedela Falker tests the RFID shopping cartVolunteer Fedela Falker tests the RFID shopping cart while students Pat Marquez and Kyle Duff gauge her progress.

Imagine a shopping cart that would allow you to download a list of items on sale, compare prices between stores, direct you through the aisles, and even check items off your list when you load them in the basket.

That dream is approaching reality, say a group of UWindsor students who have leveraged radio-frequency identification technology to design a cart that can do all this and more.

The four students—Kyle Duff, Andrew Magri, Pat Marquez and Dan Piroli—developed the cart as the capstone project crowning their studies in electrical and computer engineering.

“The items have tags and the cart has a receiver,” explains Marquez. “The time is coming when retailers use the tags to track inventory. We can re-purpose those signals to improve the store experience for shoppers.”

Besides being able to automatically detect the location of the items, the cart’s programming will also chart an optimized route, and can even e-mail shoppers an electronic receipt once they have cleared the cashier.

“How often do you need the printed receipt?” asks Marquez. “This method saves paper and is more environmentally friendly.”

Volunteer beta tester Fedela Falkner, who put the cart through its paces, is very enthusiastic about the prospects for the device.

“If they can get it perfected, it would be awesome,” she says. “I would love to load my shopping list onto the cart. I use my smartphone for my shopping list as it is.”

The project is one of 14 that students will present to the public during the department’s open house, Friday, August 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Industrial Courtyard, Centre for Engineering Innovation.