Practice Your Shopping Skills With This Self-Service Checkout Game

A self-service checkout computer game

Self-service checkouts have become a common feature in supermarkets the world over, a trend accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. While some may lament the loss of human contact, others relish the opportunity to do their own scanning: with a bit of practice, self-service can provide for a very fast checkout experience. Assuming, of course, that the machine recognizes each product, the built-in weight sensor works correctly, and you don’t get selected for a random check.

If you want to practice your checkout game without spending loads of money, you might want to have a look at [Niklas Roy] and [Kati Hyyppä]’s latest project: Bonprix is a game where the goal is to scan as many items as possible within a 90-second time limit. Installed at the Eniarof DIY festival, it’s designed to resemble a typical supermarket checkout with a display, a barcode scanner and a shopping basket filled with random items. The screen indicates which item should be scanned next; if you’re too slow, the checkout will begin to offer discounts, which you obviously don’t want. When the 90 seconds are over, the machine spits out a receipt indicating your total score.

The checkout desk is made from wooden pallets and cardboard; inside is a laptop running Linux, with a handheld barcode scanner attached via USB. An LED strip provides a beam of bright red light to indicate the scanning area, and turns green when a barcode is successfully scanned. Arduinos control the LEDs and the big red-and-yellow “start” button, while a thermal printer from an ATM prints the receipts at the end of each game.

Apart from a bit of fun, the Bonprix project tries to address questions relating to consumer culture and self-checkouts: is it fair to let customers do their own work? Should they be paid for it? Is it even ethical to encourage people to spend as much as possible?

While this is the first time we’ve seen a self-service checkout computer game, we’ve done a few deep dives into the fascinating technology of barcodes that makes it all possible. Check this out!

13 thoughts on “Practice Your Shopping Skills With This Self-Service Checkout Game

  1. “is it fair to let customers do their own work”

    Indeed the store should take your food to your car, store it in your pantry, cook it and pre-chew it for you.

    “Is it even ethical to encourage people to spend as much as possible?”

    Wow you’re questioning our entire capitalist system! Gosh those ads on TV for Lexus, maybe they should be banned! Yes indeed we should censor every advertisement and carefully remove every reference to spending more than a pittance on anything. We all need to be driving $200 junk cars and using old Chromebooks for mission critical computing because we should spend as little as possible.

    1. Well if you start now with doing everything yourself, possibly in couple hundred years you can cook a dish of cauliflower cheese when you’ve redeveloped cauliflower and dairy milk producing cattle from their wild phenotypes.

    2. It is unethical and immoral to let a sucker keep his money.

      A fool and their money were lucky to get together in the first place.

      ‘If you work in marketing, kill yourself!’ (para Hicks)

  2. I can only imagine it simulates all the terrible UX features of a real self checkout. Please do another one that simulates a gas pump next, and add my favourite feature “press 1 for contactless payment”

  3. Having to scan a particular item is pretty galling, that’s not self service.

    Instead They could’ve allowed u to scan any item, but you’ve got to find the damned code, each item deviously hides it in some way, teensy, camouflaged, under a flap, etc etc

  4. Now throw in random warranty prompts, missed scans that still made the scanner beep, and lag when going too fast to really replicate that retail clerk experience. Why yes, I do run a register on occasion, how did you guess? At least they obscure the AS/400 backend now so the kids don’t get confused…

  5. I absolutely loathe self-scanning if I have more than a frozen pizza or a brick of yoghurt, mainly due to the loud noises the machines make (they beep at volume 11 and talk) and the limited space available for repacking your groceries, and because I self-scan so infrequent, I am very often picked out for a “random check”, having to wait 3 minutes for no employee to check me, one time generating a timeout so I had to re-scan everything (And being annoyed that the line I had originally rejected would have gotten me out twice as fast).

  6. At LBPro company we used to scan little figurine of Pope John Paul II as a mock product during development of a self-checkout machine. Sometimes I wonder what happened to it.

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