A couple of days ago I picked up the story that Sainsburys supermarkets were trialling iPad docking stations on trolleys, apparently in conjunction with Sky Sports, so people can watch sport while shopping. http://www.itproportal.com/2011/08/30/sainsburys-shopping-trolleys-get-ipad-docking-station/
Now, my first reaction was that it was a bit distant from April Fools Day to be running such stories. But, after further investigation, it appears that this is genuinely happening. But, to me, it begs an awful lot of questions, including:
Connectivity: Are they going to introduce wifi in their stores too (now that would be a welcome innovation). Personally I find I struggle to get a mobile phone signal in many supermarkets, probably because they have metal walls, or some other form of construction which includes a lot of metal. The other consideration is that many iPads are wifi-only, so people won’t be able to go online without some form of connectivity being provided. The iPad docking station may be a gimmick that not many would take advantage of; but free wifi in supermarkets is another consideration altogether.
Safety: Will we be seeing lots of accidents as people career into each other, distracted by a goal, a six, or a hole in one? Apparently the trolleys are fitted with sensors to warn when they are in danger of bumping into each other, but the humans in the store will not have sensors and could be in severe peril.
Noise: Apparently the docking stations will have speakers. Even if they are used for the stated purpose of watching sport, there could still be a cacophony of noise produced. And, I suspect most people will not use it for that purpose, as a subscription to Sky Sports is required. So, what’s the betting there will be all kinds of different music blaring out from the trolleys?
History: This raises some interesting questions in my head about where technology is driving us. In theory, something like this could have been possible for a long time. I used to have one of those little pocket TVs, and I used to carry it around to watch Test Cricket on the move. That, of course, was scuppered when Sky bought the rights to all Test Cricket and it was no longer available on terrestial TV. Now, I’ve always been a bit of a gadget freak, but my point is that I hardly ever saw anyone else doing the same thing. In fact, there were a number of times when a crowd gathered around me to watch because not many people had such devices. So, why is it that Sky and Sainsburys think there will be such a demand for this when it has never been so before?