Walmart Patent Filing Reveals Amazon Dash Style Automatic Reordering Device

Walmart is working on the perfect product for people who hate shopping in stores. A recent patent filing revealed that Walmart is currently developing a device that resembles the Amazon Dash Button. The main difference? Users would not even need to press a button in order to reorder their needed item.

Walmart’s system would integrate the IoT in order to determine whether an item needs to be replenished. The device would then automatically reorder or upgrade commonly used items. According to the patent, they would incorporate, “a subscription device that associates tags with items, a tag tracking device for collecting data on the tags associated with items, and a management system that monitors changes in the use of items.”

walmart outside building
Image from: Wikimedia Commons, Jared C. Benedict, Sven

The tags will also be able to indirectly track when an item has been used. For example, if a person picks up and sets down their toothbrush, the system would assume that the toothbrush has been used. The system would then be able to roughly determine when the consumer might need more toothpaste. They may also be able to suggest items a consumer might also enjoy. One example is if the system detects that the consumer is almost out of milk, the system may also suggest that the consumer purchase complimentary items like cereal, cookies, or chocolate syrup.

The tags could potentially also provide safety warnings such as expiration dates. The tags could even be able to let a consumer know if an item was worn down to the point of becoming a safety hazard. If the tag was attached to a smoke alarm, it would let the consumer know when the smoke alarm needed new batteries.
walmart online ordering patent
This patent is cause for both celebration and concern. On one hand, how awesome would it be to never purchase milk again or to be forewarned before items expire? According to the National Fire Protection Association, 60% of all home fire deaths in the United States occurred when there was no smoke alarm present. A tagged smoke detector could cut down on the over 360,000 house fires each year.

On the other hand, these IoT tags are reminiscent of a number of dystopian novels and movies. Do consumers wants corporations having such direct access to their everyday lives? Many patents do not come to fruition, however, it will be interesting to see whether Walmart attempts to compete against Amazon in the battle of online ordering.