Hoorah! “Unexpected item in bagging area” is on the way out

If you’ve ever used self-service checkout tills in a UK supermarket, then you’ll know the frustration which arises from a chorus of mistimed declarations of ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ from multiple machines. It’s a similar feeling you get from that seagull scene in Finding Nemo, or being forced to listen to We’re Taking the Hobbits to Isengard for 10 hours.

Now all that’s about to change. Self-service machines have been a fixture in major supermarkets since 2002, but as the Huffington Post UK reports, NCR, the company which introduced them into our lives, has come up with a solution to the irritating utterance: a camera system.

Rather than assuming you’re trying to steal an extra doughnut, the new camera would supposedly enable the machines to detect when an alien object has been placed in the bagging area by accident. Common blunders include umbrellas, rucksacks and other bags.

We could see this quieter system being introduced within the next year. Additionally, the company is reportedly working on another more complex system which will allow a conveyor belt with a 360° scanner to register your shopping for you – although this won’t be around for another four to five years.


Main image via I See Modern Britain on Flickrcc.

Sadie Hale