image provider

Beyond Scanning


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

The Problem

If you have ever bought groceries at a large supermarket you are probably aware of the shortcomings of the bar code scanning system.

My Proposed Solution

Give up on posted prices altogether. The retailer will like this since keeping posted prices up to date is labour intensive and a source of constant friction with the customers. Instead customers carry little RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) readers. They can check the price of any item, get comparison info, such as price per gram and maintain a running tally of what is in the basket. To checkout, you just wheel the basket through a scanning tunnel and all the items in the basket are bulk scanned. If it does not agree with the customer’s tally, you can take corrective action.

Further, the customer, at home, on the Internet, can create a shopping list, which is downloaded into the hand-held RFID unit. The unit can then beep any time the customer walks past an item on his list and can direct him to the remaining items on the list. Retailers might not like this since shopping could to be too efficient to promote impulse buying. However, busy people might like the time saving so much they would shop only at stores that offered this service.

Your Mission

Your job is to create a prototype for this. You need to invent a universal RFID product numbering scheme, or research existing ones, build some hand held scanner prototypes (which might be laptops on carts to demonstrate the idea). You need to write the website software to let people create shopping lists. You need a database to track where various products are located. You want to design this in such a way it could interface with a variety of existing systems.

This page is posted
on the web at:

Optional Replicator mirror
on local hard disk J:

Canadian Mind Products
Please the feedback from other visitors, or your own feedback about the site.
Contact Roedy. Please feel free to link to this page without explicit permission.

Your face IP:[]
You are visitor number