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Amazon is testing a handheld barcode reader that'll scan stuff in your house so that you can create a shopping list of things you're running out of – that list being sent to Amazon's Fresh grocery delivery service, natch.

The company said that its Dash tool, being put through its paces in an invitation-only trial program, will combine voice-logging, barcode-scanning and wireless connectivity to help users build lists of items which can be transferred directly to order pages on the Fresh service.

Users are able to log items in the device either by directly scanning an item's barcode or by logging a term via voice recording. The Dash handheld then connects via Wi-Fi to the Amazon service and uploads information to the user's account. The saved items and search terms can then be accessed by users on the Fresh site where shopping lists and orders are placed.

The tool is designed to function as part of Amazon's Fresh local delivery service. First launched as a pilot program in the Seattle area, the Fresh service allows users to place orders for perishable groceries online and receive deliveries the same day from Amazon. Last year, the company expanded the service to select regions in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.

The company did not provide a timeline for possible expansion of the trials, nor general release for the Dash device. An Amazon spokesperson told El Reg that early testers were selected from Fresh service's San Francisco and Los Angeles subscriber ranks.

Local orders and deliveries have long been seen as the next step in Amazon's online retail strategy. The firm made headlines last year when it talked up a (highly improbable) plan to offer customers local deliveries via drone aircraft. ®

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