Automated processes are becoming ever more evident in retail outlets, and experts suggest it's only our imagination that is holding back the development of technology to assist shoppers choose purchases.

Tiny computer devices are being developed by CSIRO to aid consumers as they navigate supermarkets. Attached to shopping trolleys (carts), once the shopper identifies himself or herself via an electronic code, a device could add up purchases as they are placed in the trolley, offer advice on healthy eating and help shoppers avoid foods to which they have declared themselves allergic. A small screen attached to the trolley could keep shoppers informed, while a warning light could be activated if a shopper picks up a product containing an allergen.

The device could track your buying patterns and use this data to alert you to promotional offers. Downstream, it could even bill your account.

The developing technology will doubtless have to overcome concerns over consumer privacy, as it goes a few steps further from conventional loyalty card schemes.