01 June 1998

First the smartcard, now the smart refuse bin! Currently under development by The Knowledge Lab, an offshoot of NCR, it will not only record every item binned but automatically place an order with the user's nearest participating supermarket. Future product packaging could carry embedded microchips which, when thrown away, will enable the smart-bin to identify the products used, then place an order via the Internet. The bin can be programmed to exclude specified items. Says TKL director, Dr Stephen Emmott [whilst suppressing a maniacal cackle]: 'Within the next ten years, the biggest areas for growth in computing will not be computers but appliances around the home. We see this as part of the home shopping drive and within five years it would be incredibly cheap. The intelligent bin wouldn't cost more than a standard bin.' A prototype will be ready shortly and the company expects to be issuing manufacturing licenses within five years.