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Issue Date: August 2007 Issue

Shop Talk

Written by Tori Woods
When it comes to creating grocery lists, nothing has been able to top paper and a pencil. But Greg Vittardi, a Broadview Heightsbased inventor, hopes his new voice-activated SmartShopper grocery-list manager will inject a little fun into the stagnant task.  

“We designed it to keep it really simple for everybody to be able to use,” says Vittardi, who created the device with his business partner Rick Brindisi. “You buy it, you put four AA batteries in it, you stick it on your fridge and you’re using it, no matter who you are or what you know.”

You just press the gadget’s record button and state the name of whatever grocery item you need to buy, which you then confirm on a display screen. When it’s time to go to the store, the SmartShopper spits out a grocery list. You can change quantities of items, crossindex your list with available coupons, fine tune the voice recognition function and even manually enter grocery items that are not part of the machine’s built-in 2,500-item inventory.

We tried the SmartShopper for a few weeks and found the gizmo easily surpasses the wow-that’s-cool-but-who-needs-it brand of SkyMall offerings. The strong magnet on the back ensures it stays on your fridge, and the machine’s ability to organize a shopping list based on sections of a grocery store is one of its strongest features. Being able to tack on errands such as “dry cleaner” or “bank” to your list is a nice touch as well. And let’s not underestimate the sheer entertainment factor.

The device’s main drawback is its inability to create multiple lists for different stores. If there are items you specifically buy at Heinen’s, Giant Eagle, Nature’s Bin, Target and the West Side Market to stretch your shopping dollar, you don’t want them all on the same list. Maybe that’s an upgrade for version 2.0.
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