Tuesday, January 23, 2007

It Might As Well Be a Flying Car

Every couple of years we get a sneak peak of the same old future…today!

Usually its’ some kind of household gadget; An oven that can make a 6-course meal out of nothing but stale oatmeal, some chives and a couple of 10-year-old Twinkies, a refrigerator that will do all your shopping, a lamp that will read bedtime stories to your children before tucking them in and turning itself off for the night.

Okay, I made that last one up. But you get the idea.

Eventually technology that had been promised will turn up in a “practical” consumer form. We do actually have cars that parallel park themselves. How long has that tech been in the works? I first heard about cars that would be able to park themselves when I was a kid. Granted, the fantasy cars of my youth could also fly, float and could combine with a half dozen other cars to form one huge super-robot. But the point is that the self-parking technology has finally been applied.

The morning news today decided to dust off another high-tech chestnut. The shopping cart computer. A computer that will direct you to any item in the supermarket and tell you if it’s on sale, in stock or, presumably, expired.

This particular tech gadget always leaves me a little puzzled. Why do the gadget geeks dangle this carrot in front of my nose every couple years? Am I ever going to see one? Probably not for another couple of years, and then only on TV.

It’s just not practical.

I don’t know what kind of Shangri-La the inventors of this gizmo live in, but a trip to my local Albertson’s would put this idea to rest once and for all. There’s no way in hell that any supermarket in my neighborhood would ever invest one of these, much less an entire fleet.

The sad state of the regular, non-computerized shopping carts is testament to that.

My supermarket can’t seem to give me a shopping cart that doesn’t inexplicably lurch to the right every fifth step. I’m lucky if I get all four wheels. And someone, somewhere thinks that my supermarket is going to hand me a computer?

Don’t get me wrong; I would love to see these at my grocery store. It’s just never going to happen. Apathetic jerks are halting progress.

Though I would kind of get a kick out of watching homeless people collect cans and surf the Internet at the same time.

So, stop teasing me with the computerized shopping carts already. Why doesn’t someone invent something useful? Like the solid gold rental car or the posh felted Greyhound Bus Seat or the fingertip friendly crosswalk button? You know, things that people are willing to take care of.

Fun Fact: For the computerized shopping cart to be really useful, it would have to synched up with small transmitters planted in each and every item the supermarket has on the shelves.

That way when I’m looking for Dry Roasted Peanuts (not the unsalted or honey roasted kind) it could tell me:

“Dry/Roasted/Peanuts…there are…one (1)…jars in stock. Isle one, bottom shelf, behind the easy cheese at the back of the shelf next to an errant jar of olives left there two years ago…item expired.”

That would save me some time.

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