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Grocery carts with iPads? Disaster in aisle two

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You know that woman who almost clipped your rear bumper with her car because she thought she could both text and drive at the same time? Imagine how she'd fare with an iPad-loaded shopping cart.

Sainsbury's, a British grocery store chain, has outfitted their shopping carts with solar-powered iPad docks, the Telegraph reports. It's a move most likely prompted by the new generation's shift towards digital shopping lists - but we imagine this will end badly.

Scenario one: You're rounding the corner to load some watermelon into your cart when another shopper comes careening towards you, distracted by a game of Angry Birds.

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Scenario two: As you linger in the family planning aisle, trying to discreetly make your selection, you're startled by the sound of a whinnying horse - all coming from the Moo, Baa, La La La! app a toddler strapped into a cart near you is using.

Apparently the carts will have front bumper warning sensors that beep if you get too close to another cart but that can't be a foolproof system to prevent crashes.

Supermarket chains aren't the only ones trying to streamline the consumer experience with technology.

France's Orly International Airport has experimented with virtual boarding agents at gates - avatars projected on human-shaped plexiglass that announce when a flight is boarding.

Surely a system like this could save costs of paying a real boarding agent, but it's also somewhat unsettling, no? (We're getting flashbacks to CNN correspondents on presidential election night '08 or Princess Leia pleading for Obi Wan Kenobi's help).

Restaurants have also integrated iPads in their spaces to allow consumers to better search through extensive wine lists and place orders.

What do you think: When is tech useful as a customer service tool and when is it a gimmicky nuisance?

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About the Author

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter who writes about race and ethnicity. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in the 905 region. Previously, she was a feature writer for Globe Life. More

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