Business Beyond Tomorrow

A look at the supermarket of the future

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Robot hands stack your food

Today's consumers can get a glimpse of the supermarket of the future at the world's fair in Italy running until the end of October.

At the so-called Expo Milano - Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, attendees stepped into the Future Food District, which uses tech to teach shoppers about the foods they'd buy.

The Future Food District pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 showcased a futuristic supermarket with large digital displays and robots.
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In the supermarket of the future, consumers would be able readdetailed descriptions of the origins and health aspects of thefoods they're buying, according to Carlo Ratti Associati, the firmthat designed the supermarket.

"Every product has a precise story to tell," said Carlo Ratti, founding partner of the group, and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a statement on the firm's website.

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"Today, this information reaches the consumer in a fragmented way.But in the near future, we will be able to discover everythingthere is to know about the apple we are looking at: the tree itgrew on, the CO2 it produced, the chemical treatments it received and its journey to the supermarket shelf," Ratti said.

Mirrors would be suspended above products for sale and listinformation on each item, according to Ratti, and robots would dothe restocking.

At the expo, the Future Food District used YuMi dual-arm robots from ABB, an industrial robot manufacturer.

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To prevent produce and other products from being crushed, the robot uses a sensor to determine the correct amount pressure to apply, noted Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB.

Ratti stressed that the Future Food District is still a work in progress.