The system has been installed in Romford in a Tesco Extra store and Tesco is looking for people to try out the system on their Android smartphones. The app requires Android 2.2 or higher to work and you'll have to set your phone to allow apps from unknown sources to get it to work.
Via a prototype application for devices running Google's mobile Android operating system, Tesco customers who participate in this trial system can be shown where their desired products are in the store, where they are on a map of the store and take them via the shortest route to get their can of beans or bottle of wine.
Rather than using GPS like a sat-nav does for a car, the system uses in-store WiFi hotspots and location-based services to track your location in the store. Apparently it can locate you on the map of the store to within three meters.
We contacted Tesco to find out a bit more and it told us, "The trial is at the beginning of its process and is a one off with no plans to trial the system in any other stores."To us this means you could be in the wrong aisle if the tracking isn't very accurate. You can input your shopping list prior to visiting the store or enter a specific product as you shop.
Tesco has reserved judgement on the system, saying, "Please note that we won't be rolling this out to customers in general for a while because we have to think about how useful it's going to be."
Who knows if this is actually what shoppers are after, but we're imagining a certain amount of chaos as people bump into each other whilst being distracted by the app as they're walking around the store. However, if it works we imagine that it might turn out to be rather useful. µ