Feeds

IBM solves world's 'paper or plastic' crisis

Patent may save seconds, lives

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Since the dawn of history, mankind has been plagued by an unnecessary burden whilst grocery shopping at their neighborhood supermarket: telling the cashier whether they prefer a paper or plastic bag.

Precious moments are squandered. Moments better spent reading the collected works of Spinoza, curing cancer, building shelters for the homeless, or leveling Night Elf druids in World of Warcraft.

IBM may have discovered a solution to this most grievous of conditions with a US patent approved only yesterday. Let bells ring and the annals of history show that August 5, 2008 was a great day indeed.

Patent 7,407,089 (available here) is a method and system for identifying a customer and displaying whether they like paper or plastic bags without the need for uncomfortable questioning.

From the patent's description:

"However, at conventional retail locations, the customer is likely to be asked for their packaging preference each time the customer passes through a cashier station, resulting in unnecessary inconvenience for both the customer and the cashier.

What is needed is a more flexible system and method for determining packaging preference that overcomes some of these limitations. "

Welcome to the stage of history

Shhh! No more words, only knowledge

According to our admittedly rough calculations, implementation of the system could have a major impact on the grocery business.

Consider: If a customer is standing 3 feet away from the cashier, it would take approximately 0.002665 for the words "paper or plastic?" to reach him at the speed of sound. Factor in a generous one second pause to process the question, it would take roughly 1.0053317 seconds for the full round trip conversation.

But using IBM's technology and assuming the cashier is standing about 1 foot away from her register, it would take a mere 0.000000001016703 seconds for the information to reach her at the speed of light. (Dear pedantic readers: yes, this model takes place in a vacuum. And you know what? I'm not even sorry.)

The point is that about 1.00533169999 seconds are saved per transaction. This could be further improved if IBM were to develop a speedier way for the cashier to communicate the information to the bagger. We're thinking some sort of neural link between all grocery store employees.

Oh, and maybe a death ray for all those charity solicitors standing outside the store. Might as well reach for the stars here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC
Support for PCoIP protocol means zero clients can run cloudy desktops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.