At SXSW, The Future Is A Place Where Robots Make Your Latte And Grocery Shopping Is Like Gaming

By Melissa Repko
The Dallas Morning News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The robots are coming! Well, actually they are here. Melissa Repko shares some of the technology highlights from this year’s SXSW festival.


At South by Southwest, as entrepreneurs and celebrities mingle to discuss the future of tech, a lot of the hype focuses on attention-grabbing projects such as flying cars. But there also are ideas on display with a more practical bent — projects that could get into consumers’ hands sooner.

Thousands have flooded downtown Austin for the annual event that includes a tech conference, film screenings and music concerts. For techies, there is so much to see, do and experience that it’s easy to miss the new ideas that could transform whole industries.

But tune out the noise, and you could find prototypes for products that could shape everything from how we buy groceries to how we build houses in the future.

Gaming grocery
Remember Pokemon Go? The augmented-reality technology that made it possible for people to chase and catch the cartoonlike creatures with their smartphones may be coming to a grocery store near you.

Imagine using your smartphone and augmented reality to more easily check items off your grocery shopping list and personalizes the store for each shopper.

That’s the idea behind a prototype from Fjord, a design and development agency that’s owned by consulting giant Accenture. It created an augmented-reality app using the example of Whole Foods Market 365, a smaller, more price-conscious store started by the Austin-based organic grocer in 2015.

Greg Carley, who leads innovation at Fjord, said he believes augmented reality will become a popular way for pharmacies, department stores and other retailers to tailor the shopping experience for customers at brick-and-mortars.

Here’s how it works: Grocery shoppers first put together a shopping list, adding items manually or through voice commands to a virtual assistant such as Amazon Echo. When shoppers go to the store, they can hold up the smartphone app and see labels pop up above store aisles, which indicate where desired items are located.

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