Touching goods in supermarkets can spread viruses and bacteria very easily from one person to another, so it should be reduced to a minimum to protect both system relevant employees of the supermarket and customers. The checkout was identified as weak spot in the shopping process as the cashier in most supermarkets still must pull the items over an embedded scanner. Even if the cashier is following strict hygiene rules like constant hand disinfection and wearing gloves the risk of contamination of goods cannot be ruled out. There are modern check-out systems via self-scan, but these systems require the use of handheld scanners and therefore are not a viable option to be used in a pandemic crisis. Even non-moveable solutions are not going to rolled out in all supermarkets as rapidly as necessary, therefore we identified the need of self-scan application with the customers smartphone.
Live Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMm0Zg4Gl_E
What it does
In the shop all goods will be scanned at the moment of putting them in the cart or the customers bag. Before leaving the shop the customer can then choose between two contactless check-out options: 1) At supported shops it is possible to pay via phone and directly receive a receipt – the customer can leave the store like at an airports custom area with the chance of being randomly controlled. 2) The customers can use the easy to use display barcode function to a scanner at a normal checkout point and skim through the individual barcodes of the items in the shopping cart by swiping or shaking the phone – a “piep” sound is telling the customer and the cashier if an item was successfully scanned. The advantage is that goods don´t have to be touched anymore by the cashier, nevertheless the solution is based on trust and could be exploited more easily. Nevertheless, we believe the risk of contamination and therefore a potential lock-down of a supermarket is way more expensive than some shoplifting incidents.
How we built it
We build this easy app using Angular 8 and ready-to-use BarCode scanning packages. The UI is designed to function similar to document scanning apps – easy, few buttons and not many options. The idea is to use Scan -> Temporary Shopping Cart -> easy to scan vector graphic BarCode on the phone screen In the basic function only saves data temporarily on the phone and is not processing it to any third party. In the advance solution it is possible to use direct payment services at the check-out and provides the customer with a receipt and the supermarket with all necessary information for its EPR system.
Challenges we ran into
Getting it to run as a stable web app and still have access to smartphone functionalities. Deploying the prototype via Heroku.
Accomplishments that we proud of
It is easy, reduces touching points drastically and can be used in almost any supermarket immediately. We avoid typical problems when it comes to digitalization, e.g. interfaces. As it works also locally only we can protect data privacy.
What we learned
Keep it simple and analyse the process. Ask what if questions: using our hands and touching goods is natural for us, but our hands are the most prone vector to get infected.
What's next for Notosho - the hygienic no touch shopping experience
Further testing and validating with more barcodes and check-out setups. It should be scale-able fast and conveniently.