Supermarket bar code scanners might have seemed really high tech back in 1979, but by now we're all pretty familiar with their limitations. So a new type of scanner takes a different approach, by actually recognizing the object itself, rather than scanning the bar code.
Instead of using a laser to read the code, the new scanner has a camera that looks at the object, and matches it visually to a database with prices. This means that it can scan items without bar codes like fresh produce.
Maker Toshiba Tec says that the camera is sensitive enough to differentiate between various types within a group. So, for example, it can tell your Granny Smith apples from the Golden Delicious variety. This sounds a whole lot better than waiting while the cashier looks up the code for organic Peruvian Mangoes, but I wonder how it deals with bulk items like loose beans that need to be weighed?
Toshiba Tec is currently demonstrating the system at the Retail Tech Japan show in Tokyo. No word on when it might roll into a supermarket near you.