The new service is able to show you where all your wanted products are on a store map, show you where you are on that map, and guide you round the store to pick up your products using the shortest route.
The prototype system is installed at the Tesco Extra, Romford (Gallows Corner) in north-east London, and we need to recruit a large control group of customers (including staff) who would like to try it out on their Android smart-phones.
Would you like to give it a go? If so apply to join our control group (info below) which will assess the accuracy and reliability of the service from a technical perspective.. If you're accepted, here is what you'll experience:
- Install our prototype app on your Android smart phone (it's not in the Android Marketplace, you'll be sent a link to download it directly and you'll need to change a setting temporarily to allow non-marketplace apps on your phone to install it).
- Build up a shopping list on it (just like you can with Tesco Finder).
- Send that shopping list to another customer with the same app on their phone so they can go shopping on your behalf (so I'm happy for members of a household to be in the control group).
- Head to Tesco Extra Romford (click for map link).
- Start the app as you walk through the front door.
- See a comprehensive store map with all the items in the shopping laid out on it.
- Press a button and the app will find the shortest distance between the products and create a route for you.
- Show you where you are on the map with a blue dot with an accuracy of within 3 metres.
- Walk the store following the route. The blue dot will move around the map as you move around.
- If you want to find any product 'adhoc', we'll find it in the store and show you where it is on the map.
So now we need your help. If…
- You live or work near Tesco Extra, Romford, and
- You have an android phone with Android OS v2.2 or later installed on it, and
- You're prepared to change your phone's application settings temporarily to allow installation of apps from 'Unknown Sources' just while you install our app, and
- You are prepared to run an R&D app and accept no liability from us if we cause your phone problems (although it doesn't do anything more than require access to your wifi and location-based services on your phone), and
- You accept that the app, being R&D, is a bit geeky but you are prepared to fiddle and play with it, and
- You accept the system, being R&D, may just not work from time to time.
To join the control group, write to our R&D project manager Ben Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject 'SATNAV APP'. Ben (@realbenm) has been running this exciting project from the start, so he'll look forward to hearing from you. Indeed you'll receive further instructions in a few days after contacting us. In the message please indicate what make and model of Android handset you have, and the version of Android it is running.
The service is only available publicly to Android phone owners at this time, because we don't want the app in it's current state going into the public app stores. Only Android easily offers the ability to install apps from 'Unknown Sources'.
Please note that we won't be rolling this out to customers in general for a while because we have to think about how useful it's going to be. The system involves a lot of infrastructure installation in the stores so we need to get all kinds of people involved in thinking about the customer experience. It would be awful if we did all this work but few customers really used it.
We must also see how we would put the technology into our production applications and make it really easy for everyone to use. There's also the possibility that the infrastructure is not reliable right now.
This project is in R&D for a good reason, and we are allowed to prove the viability - or otherwise - of anything we might wish to offer our customers. Sometimes R&D is close to production, and at other times it is far away.
Apologies to other companies offering this service who contacted me after my original blog post that kicked off this project. We've had to operate under strict NDA with our chosen provider and not even intimate there was a such as system under construction. Until now!