In a recent post on their technology experimentation blog, Tesco has announced a live trial of what they're dubbing "in-store Sat-nav".
The in-store navigation is in the form of an application you install on your phone. Once installed, you're able to search for products individually as well as load up your entire shopping list.
The term "Sat-nav" is perhaps a little misleading, as the system doesn't rely on GPS but rather the stores own Wi-fi network. The application uses the WiFi nodes as a point of reference to triangulate your location which Tesco says is accurate up to 3 meters, or about the width of an aisle.
One of the cooler aspects of the app is its ability to calculate the shortest route around the store, which is a boon for busy people, while still maintaining the ability to go off-route to pick up something you didn't originally have on your list.
The app isn't currently in the android market so if you want to test it, you'll have to email them. Keep in mind, though, there are a few caveats, taking part is only possible if:
- You live or work near Tesco Extra, Romford, and
- You have an android phone with Android OS v2.2 or later installed on it, and
- You're prepared to change your phone's application settings temporarily to allow installation of apps from 'Unknown Sources' just while you install our app, and
- You are prepared to run an R&D app and accept no liability from us if we cause your phone problems (although it doesn't do anything more than require access to your wifi and location-based services on your phone), and
- You accept that the app, being R&D, is a bit geeky but you are prepared to fiddle and play with it, and
- You accept the system, being R&D, may just not work from time to time.
That's right, you'll need to make sure you're running Android 2.2 or later if you want to take part. Fear not, iPhone users, the only reason it's trailing on Android is, as Tesco have put it, because "Only Android easily offers the ability to install apps from 'Unknown Sources'.", which means that if the trial is a success and it's rolled out to other stores, you can expect to find it in the iOS appstore as well.
It's certainly an interesting trial and it will be telling if people are willing to walk around hunched over their phones while trying to do their shopping, or if it'll be too much trouble. It'll also be interesting to see if that 3m accuracy is enough to stop people from being led down the wrong aisle. Read more about it and find out how to take part at Tesco's technology blog.