Let's face it: large physical retail stores can be difficult to navigate at times, especially for first-time shoppers. To help alleviate this problem, UK retailer Tesco (informally known as the European Walmart) has developed and is now testing an in-store GPS system that can be accessed from an Android phone.

Upon opening the app, you'll be greeted with an empty shopping list which you can fill with any and all products available at Tesco. This isn't just any shopping list, however; step into the Tesco Extra store in northeast London and a comprehensive store map will appear on your handset, complete with the locations of all the items on your list. Using your device's built-in GPS chip, the application can also locate you on said map (with an accuracy of within 3 meters, no less) and find the shortest route to the product(s) you wish to purchase.

Neato, right? Unfortunately, the only currently participating store is the aforementioned Tesco Extra Romford in northeast London. Worse yet, there's no telling when - or if - the app will see the light of day; at the moment, it's available exclusively to members of a "control group," and the author of the blog post (Nick Lansley) seems unsure as to whether the system will ever be publicly available outside of Romford:

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.

Still, it's a promising concept - one that shopaholics have been dreaming about for years now. If you live in or near London and would like to join the "control group," you can try shooting off an email to Ben Martin, the manager of this R&D project; otherwise, you'll just have to wait and hope for the best.

Cheers, Chris!

Source: Tech for Tesco