A squad car that can go up to 100 mph and still read license plates. A retailer that can get inventory and tell you where your item is in seconds. A touch screen concierge that helps shoppers find an item, buy it, get reviews and check live chats for advice. And smartphone technology in a grocery store that scans items and then lets you hand in a list as you pay at the door.
Such technology is coming soon and Motorola Solutions Inc. is at the heart of it. The Schaumburg-based company held its annual Innovation Showcase this week, touting its latest inventions to press and technology analysts.
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"Some of this isn't available yet. We're inventing everything as we go," said Paul Steinberg, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Motorola Solutions. "We want them (customers) to get the information they need at the right time and in the right way."
The global company has been promoting its vast array of technology for government and public sector customers as well as for retailers here and worldwide, including most recent trips to Paris and even the Gobi Desert, Steinberg said.
As part of the showcase, Motorola's experts demonstrated how a squad car equipped with cameras perched on top can view all nearby license plates, scan them and verify if they're stolen vehicles.
Another technology, referred to as the connected officer, allows for a camera in a police officer's vest to immediately record an oncoming suspect. Sensors elsewhere on the uniform can relay information back whenever the officer pulls a gun or uses pepper spray.
Then when the officer locks a firearm in the squad, only that officer's touch and an accompanying sensor would allow the firearm to be released for quick use.
As for the retail setting, store managers can get instant results on inventory by installing a RFID, or radio frequency identification, overhead reader that looks much like a light fixture. It instantly picks up on codes in tags that are attached to clothing. The fixture regularly reads where the item is and whether it's still in the store, being purchased or being carried out the door.
A large concierge touch screen offers consumers a chance to find the item they need, buy it, slide their credit card in an attached device, read more about the item or scan reviews, and even get a live person to ask questions. If you don't want to use the screen's keyboard to touch type the words in, you can use voice commands to call up your item.
The concept is designed for the so-called "endless aisle," a term used for retailers who may have limited space in their bricks-and-mortar store but endless space available online to feature all other products for sale via the self-service touch screen.
As for grocery shopping, consumers may soon be able to use their smartphones to scan their selected items, put them in their cart and just hand the list in to pay at the door. The connected shopper concept also would provide suggested products or offer coupons after you select something.
While the concierge touch screen was recently launched, other technology likely will be available sometime in the next year or two, said Steinberg.
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