Kinect-driven cart makes shopping a snap

wi_go

[Luis de Matos] is working on a neat Kinect project called Wi-GO that aims, as many do, to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. While the Wi-GO project is geared towards disabled persons, it can be quite helpful to the elderly and pregnant women as well.

Wi-GO is a motorized shopping cart with a Kinect sensor mounted on the back. The sensor interfaces with a laptop and functions much as you would as you would expect, scanning the area in front of the cart for objects and people. Once it identifies the individual it is meant to help, the cart diligently follows behind as the person goes about their typical shopping routine. The robot keeps a safe distance to avoid collisions, but remains within reach so that it can be used to carry goods.

If you take a look a the video below, you can see Wi-GO in action. It starts off by showing how difficult it would be for an individual in a wheel chair to use a shopping cart alone, and follows up by showing how much easier things are with Wi-GO in tow.

While the project is only in prototype form at the moment, we suspect that it will only be a matter of time until you see devices like Wi-GO in your local supermarket.

Comments

  1. salomon says:

    So, finally Microsoft did something good, inventing the kinect

  2. Amos says:

    I would have called it “Pearwood” (cf. Terry Pratchett’s “The Color of Magic”)

  3. Matthieu says:

    Isn’t that possible to add some sort of adaptated cart behind the wheelchair ? (and drag it around)

    I find the project awesome and really practical, but that’s what I thought at first when I saw the man pushing the cart.

  4. IceBrain says:

    Oh, cool, a Portuguese project.

    The problem I see is the path between the cash register and the car, and to transport the device in the car itself.

    It would have to feature bigger wheels for the more rugged floor and probably be foldable.

  5. JW says:

    Nice prototype but in the UK we have shopping carts that attach to the front wheelchairs so your arms are free. which kind of means you don’t need an expensive piece of kit

  6. Andrei Cociuba says:

    i hope you do realize that it is much easier to make a shopping cart follow a wheelchair by attaching them together with a string, right?

  7. lwatcdr says:

    Very cool but not just for the disabled and pregnant women but anybody shopping with kids. How if you could combine it with RIFD and NFC so check out would be a swipe you would be all set.

  8. Drake says:

    @andrei

    Now pull that cart up a ramp or hill …
    Or around a tight corner in a store …
    Makes since now …

  9. Andrei Cociuba says:

    @drake. i think it can be done with the string, and i also think it will be significantly faster and more energy efficient.
    not that i underestimate the potential utility of the design, i often considered building something similar myself to navigate between party attenders and distribute drinks.
    but in order to make a single shopping cart follow a single person in a wheelchair, at that distance, at a usable speed, you need pretty complex hardware and software algorithms to detect and isolate the specific person from all other individuals randomly navigating between user and cart, and avoid collisions, plus an infrastructure of chargers, batteries, etc…

    forgive me, but at this specific speed, in this specific scenario, i still think a string is the better option.

    i am not disabled, but i would be willing to try it on myself, if i find anyone willing to lend a wheelchair.

  10. Josh says:

    I doubt it would be much easier for someone in a wheelchair to drag something like a trailer around, especially in tight quarters like a shopping center. I may be wrong on that.

    This would be great for supermarkets to have one or two on hand. Maybe have a handheld remote to help it with more complex maneuvering, or reverse?

  11. IceBrain says:

    A string? Right. Only if you have someone to pick the stuff that the cart will keep hitting in each corner. Like those (glass?) jars in 00:34.

    And with the data that the Kinect provides I don’t think it’d be difficult at all to distinguish the person.

  12. IceBrain says:

    @Josh: I doubt supermarkets will provide them. They need to carry stuff to the car to be really useful, and then there’s simply too much risk of theft.

  13. tjb says:

    As some one who has been around a few people in wheel chairs I can say that a “string” will not work. Too hard to cut the corners or maneuver around the mid isle displays. I thing carts like this will show up in the same place and use as the scooters some shopping places have now.

    Given that this is a proof of concept I would not worry about how big the wheels are or max speed. I also thing we will be seeing units like this in the near future in shopping centers. Probably some sort of auto mode with manual over ride. The robo cart follows the person with the remote.

    I would expect the remote to have settings for following distance plus a joy stick or directional buttons.

  14. Hirudinea says:

    I wouldn’t mind one of these following me around while shoping, I’m perfectly able-bodied, just lazy, My question is if you go around a corner or somebody walks between you and “rover” how does it reaquire you?

  15. monster says:

    I used to work at a grocery store, and every customer but one would simply use a hand basket on their lap. what nobody has mentioned yet is how is this person going to get their full cart of groceries inside once they get home. people in wheelchairs are usually fiercely independent, I doubt they’d generally ask for help from neighbors.

    the one customer in a wheelchair who used a cart would hold the cart with both hands and weave back and forth like a snake. there was a scooter that moved with the same idea at my elementary school way back in the day. he could get going at a pretty good clip.

  16. pff says:

    anyone saying string is dumb; if you move and then stop the only thing that stops the cart is it hitting you.
    although to be fair; this invention is dumb.
    most wheelchair people probably dont want another reason to be stared at in addition to their gruesome abnormalities.
    If they cant use a shopping cart or a basket like a normal person then why not just use a home delivery service? Normal people use it too so theres no lame excuse about wanting to fit in and not be helped
    which is a poor excuse about being dependant.
    whats the difference between a person helping you shop and a chair with wheels helping you walk?
    Unless they made the chair then they are reliant on someone to build the chair.
    If disableds stopped worrying so much about what normal people thought then maybe normal people would treat them like normal people

  17. Whatnot says:

    I bet the video when he gets to to the cash-register is hilarious as the carts backs off when he tries to get the stuff out to be scanned.

    And this might be nice for him, but imagine a few of those and then how that is for people that are not handicapped, to have a wheelchair with a cart behind it at a distance takes up a lot of space, and I’m not sure you can walk inbetween without the thing getting confused. (Not that the non-handicapped don’t seem to deliberately take the space of 6 people and stand still in intersections on purpose though.)

    @pff “their gruesome abnormalities.”, wtf? I see no gruesome abnormalities, I see a guy in a wheelchair, are you on LSD?

  18. Rex says:

    First of all it’s great to see a Portuguese project here :D Força pessoal!!! :P

    Secondly, this is a proof of concept, not even a prototype, so:
    – (@pff) the cosmetic is not the best, it could be made more apealing and even desireable to “normal” people;
    – as already mentioned, it is better than a string. it’s far more complicated and costy but also allows much more functionalities to be added;
    – it still has some issues to solve, like when the person tries to put something on the basket it has to come closer, if the person reverses the wheelchair or does a 180 degree rotation, or the already mentioned issue of taking the stuff out to the cash-register;

    Despite all of this, i think that the concern for disabled people is the most important part of this project.

  19. MrX says:

    @salomon The kinect was not invented by Microsoft. The technology was invented by PrimeSense and Microsoft bought the right to use the technology. Thats it. What Microsoft did was the software that runs on the XBOX and which is NOT used in all the kinect hacks. The kinect outputs pretty much raw information which people use for their own purpose.

  20. Mike says:

    Towing a standard shopping cart a foot or two behind would be more practical.

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