Last week, Nursery class visited Sainsbury’s. One of the things they were going to keep an eye out for was the different uses of technology in the supermarket. How many things can you think of in a supermarket that use technology? Next time you visit a supermarket, why not take some photos of anything interesting and we can discuss what it’s for & how it might work?

Here are some photos I took tonight in the Savacentre. Can you identify what each device does? Look out for them next time you visit!

Supermarket Technology

In July I was lucky enough to visit IBM. They have lovely offices in an old country house near Winchester. This is where their Innovations unit is based – they spend all their time tinkering to develop new products and I learned some very interesting things! Here they have a model supermarket so they can show customers all the different technologies they are developing. See photos below:

Scanning your purchases:

When your item is scanned by you, or by the cashier, what do you think happens at the moment it beeps? This is what I think, but I may be wrong:

  • The cost of the item is added to your bill
  • A message is sent to the supermarket stockroom to put anther one on the shelf
  • A message is sent to the central warehouse to deliver more to the branch
  • The weight of the item is added to your bag in the bagging area, to check you have paid for it

When I left the Savacentre, I was given a coupon with a Price Match Refund. Do you know or can you find out what this is?

Here is a link all about Sainsbury’s Brand Match. We will be talking soon in Code Club about how this works. Have a think about:

  • Why do you think Sainsbury’s offers this?
  • How you think it works?
  • What inputs does it need?
  • Can you start to develop an algorithm for this?
  • Most supermarkets have a similar promise. How do you think they decide which other supermarket to match against?
  • Lots of supermarkets also have “loyalty cards”. Can you find out what these are & think about the benefits/ drawbacks of them, for both the customer & the shop?

Here are some interesting developments being trialled currently (photos from the Telegraph newspaper Oct 2103):

The first picture shows a trial in a French supermarket chain of paying for your shopping just by scanning your fingerprint! The second one shows a 3D scanning belt in Asda and the third shows a customer scanning all her goods with her iPhone. What do YOU think about these ideas?

This is a security/ CCTV camera in a supermarket:

M&S CCTV camera








Some questions:

  • Why do you think supermarkets have these cameras?
  • Next time you go to a supermarket, can you count how many cameras there are? Please let Nicola know!
  • Who gets to see the video footage of you at the supermarket?
  • Do you think it’s monitored by a human? Where are they?
  • Where is the video footage stored & how long is it kept for? Are there any laws about this?
  • What if you didn’t want anyone to know that you had been to the supermarket?
  • Can you see different types of CCTV camera in different places around you?
  • Is CCTV a Good Thing, or a Bad Thing? Why?
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About nic schofield

I’m a primary schools computing technician, interested in teaching children, their teachers & their parents, about IoT, computational thinking and implications of technology on their lives and encouraging children to think critically about technology to influence change in the world.

5 thoughts on “Supermarkets!

  1. The circular dome CCTV camera is useful because it doesn’t just look in one direction because of its circular shape. Cameras haven’t evolved (yet) to detect a criminal so it’s up to us more intelligent creatures to take action and monitor the shop. Although I doubt someone would sit there all day doing the job of surveillance, they would take shifts.


  2. I think that a human does actually monitor the CCTV camera. They could control it at the top floor of the supermarket where all the staff can go. The security guard probably checks the CCTV camera 24/7 so that if there is something wrong, then he can immediately check it out.


  3. I recognised self service tills which let you scan items yourself, they recognise the item by the barcode that has been programmed into them. Like Nathan and Shahzeb I saw a security camera which the police use to find or show evidence. There was also a credit card holder, I think that they work because the credit card has some sort of software in it which is recognised by the holder then takes money from the bank. I didn’t see anything else that I knew.


  4. I think that the circular black sphere, is a CCTV surveillance camera, and it remains stationary most of the time, but when the surveillance team see something suspicious, they would spin the camera around, and in extreme cases, the camera would spin around rapidly, to capture evidence. I do think that people run the cameras, because, unfortunately, technology is too oblivious and unintelligent, so surveillance has to be left to humans.


  5. The circular black dome is a CCTV camera that spins around very fast that records 24 hours a day. I think that it records every day and stores every single. Because if there is a crime that takes a long time to solve, police can use the videos to help them solve the case.


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