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Brazilian beer brand Skol is funding the creation of a smart shopping cart that helps the visually impaired shop in supermarkets. Users wear a headset, and get instructions from the AI-powered cart on how to navigate the aisles. The cart also features sensors that report obstacles such as smaller shelves, objects and people. Shelves will be labeled in braille at participating supermarkets. The smart carts hit the aisles in June 2019.

This example was brought to us by spotter Sarina Sena from Brazil. This is why she thinks this innovation is important:

Practical Empowerment. In Sarina’s words, ‘Going shopping can mean something very trivial for most of us, but can be a big challenge for visually-impaired customers. This is a great example of a brand promoting inclusivity and accessibility in a practical manner.’ Today, brands are encouraged – even required! – to prove that they’re Making the World a Better Place. That’s a big challenge, but this example flags up one great place to start: with a simple daily task that most of us take for granted, but that some are excluded from. Are there parts of your customer journey that are easy for most but impossible for a few? How can you change that?

Human After All. Way back in 2014 we wrote INTERNET OF BETTER THINGS, about how connected objects can make human lives better. Skol’s smart shopping cart is great 2019 example of that trend, and a powerful reminder that good innovation is never about tech for tech’s sake. Rather, the best tech-fueled innovations put new technologies to work to serve core human needs. Regular readers will be familiar with the question, but here’s a gentle reminder: what new technologies are making waves in your industry right now? How can you put them to work to serve the core human needs of customers – including those too often marginalised or ignored?