September 19, 2017
That moment when you turn the cart down the isle and head to the checkout when you see a massive amount of people waiting and you know it's going to be another 20 minutes before you leave. One startup wants to solve that problem by developing smart shopping carts that not only hold your groceries but can be a point-of-sale terminal, eliminating the need to ever wait in a check-out line again.
Maine-based startup Blynk Technology, has flown under the radar, but gained some exposure when cofounder Allegra McNeally pitched the company’s smart shopping cart product, Apricart, at the inaugural Startup South Portland pitch contest, and won.
McNeally and her husband, Shahzad Kirmani, founded Blynk Technology this past spring. It is a spin-off of their existing company VisionMaster Inc., which designs and develops 3D non-contact sensor systems for electronics manufacturers. They have an office in Peloton Labs, a coworking space in Portland’s West End. McNeally’s successful pitch came with $750 and a spot in the grand finale event, which takes place on Oct. 4 at a yet-to-be-determined location in South Portland.
“We have been looking at other applications for our technology and last year started focusing on the pain point of the check out lane in retail B&M stores,” McNeally wrote in an email to Maine Startups Insider. “For a number of reasons, it made sense to spin off this division.”
While the current checkout lines at grocery stores utilize very localized and 2D technology to scan each item you want to buy, the technology behind Apricart would allow 3D machine-vision technology embedded in the shopping cart to “scan” each item as you put it in your cart.
“It basically recognizes what you’re putting in your cart,” Kirmani said.
The company has a patent pending on some of the underlying technology. The company is not ready to discuss where it is in terms of prototypes or corporate partnerships. Kirmani said he doesn’t know of any other technology companies working on this type of solution, but admits that startups or intrapreneurs at major grocery stores could be working under the radar.
Read more about emerging Maine startups at TechCo
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