Self-serve checkout theft is costing supermarkets billions, and while it’s easy to confuse ginger with a cheap potato, a new plan may be put in place to ensure customers are being honest when wrapping up their weekly grocery shop.

But it’s all dependent on whether it grabs the attention of the supermarket giants.

It all started when three guys from Melbourne who met at a coding competition had a brilliant idea that they knew would be a success.

When testing out the technology, the advanced software was able to detect what shoppers had in their baskets before they even had a chance to checkout.

Co-founder of robotics firm, Keaton Okkonen, spoke to and said the system’s technology is a combination of cameras and sensors and if put in place, may be the end to what he claims is self-serve “stock bleed”.

And while supermarkets never reveal the exact figures on how much they lose through self-serve theft, research company Canstar Blue conducted a study and came back with alarming results. When asked if they’ve stolen an item without scanning it, 7 per cent of the candidates surveyed said yes, while 9 per cent said they’ve scanned the item as a cheaper product.

In total, shoplifting is costing Australian retail businesses an enormous $4.5 billion a year.

How it works

The technology is currently being tested in various different supermarkets around New South Wales but according to Mr Okkonen, they have no plans to reveal the locations as it is “all very hush hush”.

This new system is vastly different to a standard self-serve checkout, and actually begins monitoring your basket the minute you take a product off the shelves.

With sensors and cameras fitted into the ceilings, the system will track which product you have picked up and what you have placed into your shopping trolley. Which means by the time you reach the payment point, the sensors already know exactly what you’re buying.

Mr Okkonen said that the advanced technology is not put in place to catch your everyday thief.

“We’re not trying to catch people who are actively malicious – most of the time when people press the wrong product, it’s not intentional.

“So (with the new system) when you pick up an organic carrot, the checkout suggests it’s an organic carrot which makes it easier for you to do the right thing.”

Privacy concerns

The idea of technology tracking our every move makes people uncomfortable. Whether we’re using our phones or the internet, it seems the world knows every piece of information about us whether we like it or not.

Now, with this new system, shoppers will most likely show concern over a sensor that’s watching us while we shop, but Mr Okkonen put those claims to rest as he says there is no way for the computer to know your identity.

“We can look at your height, rough shape, skeletal structure and clothes and come up with a profile, so we won’t confuse you.

“But we’re not trying to know if you’re Jane or David; we’re just re-identifying you on your supermarket journey.”

Do you think the new system is a good idea? Let us know in the comments below. 

Article created in partneship with Over60.