The entire system is, in turn, placed in a sensor-rich world, where central computers track inventory and match customer needs to what’s available in the store for the shopper. It is as though every search function when buying something online at, say, Amazon, is instead done in real time by robots and computers while the customer is at the store. The selection is limited by the physical bounds of the space, so there aren’t as many choices as shopping the entire world online. Instead, if this Walmart patent becomes standard retail technology, customers choosing to buy stuff in person get the immediacy of the purchase, facilitated by a visible robot-cart army. That might just be a good enough trade-off for a more limited selection. Or at least, it will be until the novelty wears off.