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IBM trials Palm-type device for home shopping

A test being run with Safeway means you never have to go out in Basingstoke again. Phew...

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IBM and grocery chain Safeway are running a test of a consumer Palm Pilot-type device which allows you to produced personalised shopping lists. The device is used to scan in bar codes from groceries, and then the shopping list is sent to the store by attaching the machine to a phone line. The service is being piloted via Safeway's Basingstoke superstore. By a massive coincidence, Basingstoke is one of IBM's main UK bases. By another massive coincidence, IBM has had a licence for the Palm Pilot for some time now, and we were kind of wondering what it was going to do with. Apart, that is, from letting Dave McAughtrie of the NC division wander round with one, saying how nice it is. For the Safeway test the device is being called the "Easi-Order." It comes in a Palm Pilot format, but adds a bar code scanner which can be used to scan in groceries at the store or at home. You ought to be able to use it on anything that's got a bar code, not just stuff you bought at Safeway, and this may also be a cue for the world's most boring book - the IBM-Safeway Bumper Book of Barcodes. Safeway already uses a scanner system for its Shop & Go system, and runs a Collect & Go system, where you order by phone or fax and then pick up. Funny name though - do rivals run Collect & then Hang Around Till the Store Closes and they Throw You Out? The new system is intended to bridge the two - you order remotely, then pick up. The Easi-Order operates as a personal organiser as well, and is intended to be priced between £125 and £400, depending on features. The system itself needn't use this as a client - the technology is Java, and it could easily be extended to NCs, PCs, set-top boxes or other clients. ®

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