30 Jul 2015
Sneak loves self-service checkouts. They remove the need for human interaction and there’s something vaguely futuristic about the whole process.
However, one thing he can do without is the horrible AI voice of the robotic ‘woman’ who barks instructions, not least her most reviled phrase: ‘Unexpected item in bagging area.'
This refrain is the scourge of shoppers everywhere, and no doubt the workers in supermarkets who have to hear the phrase over and over and over again, which can't be conducive to a positive mental state.
Indeed Sneak once stood in a queue in Tesco when, quite by chance, five or six machines all said the phrase at the same time. The effect of surround-sound checkouts voicing their disapproval of shoppers' checkout styles was unnerving to say the least.
The phrase makes no sense either. The items the robotic checkout girl claims are 'unexpected' are often nothing more than a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, which are hardly unexpected for a supermarket.
Furthermore, why is the till commenting on the surprise of Sneak’s shopping choices anyway? 47 Pot Noodles is a perfectly acceptable shopping spree, is it not?
In light of all this, Sneak is delighted to read that Tesco is doing away with the hated phrase and even replacing the woman’s voice with the more plummy sounds of a, well, man.
The helpful folk at Tesco have even made a video showing the old, hated phrases, and the new, more soothing, phrases and how they will sound, which you can listen to below.
The change to more friendly and welcoming sounds and sayings raises an interesting point: as more electronic assistants enter our lives, the tone of voice, phrases and delivery styles must become more natural (and tolerable).
Otherwise shoppers will start to shun those supermarkets they don't enjoy for those they do, perhaps based on nothing more than the quality of the AI's personality.
Hmm, Sneak didn't mean to get so deep there. You could say it was a case of unexpected intellect in the blogging area.
Frozen food flogger BirdsEye has launched what may well be the first tech-related food item since the chip.
Mashtags, or as the logo says "MAS#TAGS", are "#new", "#tasty" and "Pot@to Shaped". Disregarding the fact that the pronunciation of Pot@to would actually be po-tatt-o, this is a fantastic contribution to the UK's incoming computing curriculum.
Teaching kids the lingo of online interactions is surely a crucial aspect of the syllabus, which focuses heavily on staying safe online. And there's no better way of staying safe than writing in potato-based characters. And since the government's Year of Code is already in trouble, anything to whet kids' appetite for code will be welcome.
A pack of Mashtags goes for £1.75 at your local supermarket, but presuming you want your kids to write something that doesn't look like a swear word (#@*# off), you'll probably have to double up and get some alphabet-shaped food products, too.
Plus, with the addition of emoticons ( :) and <3), kids can express their emotions by holding up scolding-hot lumps of potato. Result. And cheaper than a Raspberry Pi.
Amazon has filed a patent that will allow it to ship a package to you before you even know you've bought it.
It's not as if you're going to have DVD box sets of Miranda you didn't pay for turning up in the clutches of an expectant Amazon delivery drone – one can only dream of such an event – it's rather more a logistical development than a customer service one. Although, Sneak notes, it will lead to some deliveries that are rather faster than we've previously come to expect from Mr Bezos and his crew.
The patent, as The Wall Street Journal explains, means certain items will begin their journey from Amazon's shipping hubs to more localised distribution centres.
This sort of tech is certainly not new, Sneak reminds you. Any online retailer worth its salt should be able to predict the sales patterns of people in certain areas and move goods around to suit. But this is big data gone wild: the difference here is that items on-the-move could have their destination changed on the fly if someone in the area has made a purchase, meaning a truck could be diverted to make a speedy delivery.
Sounds rather implausible. But get this: some items might even get delivered to, say, a block of flats with multiple tenants who are likely to buy it. So, to your surprise, you may end up with a delivery just seconds after you've finished fumbling with your credit card.
This could lead to some interesting situations where one tenant orders something they have never ordered before and ends up with it instantly, revealing that either Amazon can accurately predict the future, or that someone living in the same building has very particular shopping habits. Or both.
Sneak can't wait to have his new remote control drone delivered by Amazon drone, three days before he ordered it.
Apple has long been renowned for the innovative architecture and layout of its retail locations. The minimalist design and glass storefronts have become as familiar with the public as the company's iconic logo.
According to at least one woman and her attorney, however, Apple's retail storefronts are less an archtectural marvel and more of a looming death trap.
The 83 year old resident of Queens, NY claims that Apple was negligent when they erected their Long Island store with a massive glass front. The woman suffered a broken nose when she failed to see the glass wall and walked into a door.
As a result, the woman now believes that Apple owes here roughly $1m in damages. Her lawyer claims that the company's store designs are insensitve to the needs and limitations of older customers.
Such lawsuits have become a favourite passtime here in the US, so it is not much of a surprise that the matter has gained traction and will likely be settled out of court for significantly less than the claim.
That a glass storefront would pose a problem for Apple should hardly be a surprise. After all, the company has long been haunted by its struggles with Windows...