Irrestistible rise of the gadget

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The Independent Online
The supermarket chain Safeway is to update its hand-held shopping scanner - designed to help customers to keep a running total of their purchases and cut check-out queues. The new hi-tech device will be able to say "hello" to shoppers when they arrive, and tip them off about special offers it thinks might interest them.

The gadget expands the self-scanning system, already used in 130 Safeway stores, which tots up shoppers' bills as they go round the store, so reducing check-out queues. But by using information gleaned through Safeway's loyalty card scheme, this latest scanner is able to interact with each customer on an individual basis.

Shoppers slot their cards into the machine when they pick up their trolleys. The computer can then tap into the vast databank of information about shopping habits compiled over past visits.

The first shoppers to experience the Handiscan's personal service will be at the chain's store in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. It will be introduced in about 50 stores by the end of the year.