Food & Drink

Hointer: German Robots Make Shopping Fun for Men

By Naomi Craw December 13, 2012


You can recognize him by his over-worn denim (but not the stylish kind) and by how his eyes dart towards the nearest exit when you mention the “s-word.” Yes, he’s one of those men afraid of shopping. Maybe he hates crowds, or is overwhelmed by the choices, or dreads the laser eye of the shopkeeper, but he’ll avoid replacing those jeans until the last possible moment.

Dr. Nadia Shouraboura had just such a shopper in mind when she conceived of Hointer, a men’s clothing shop that opened  earlier this month in the University District. Hointer uses German robotic technology and a smartphone app to create a shopping experience that is speedy, no-hassle, and no-hassled (by the ubiquitous overly attentive salesperson). At Hointer, you can select clothes, try them on, and make your purchase without ever seeing a human being.

In its beta version, Hointer primarily stocks high-end denim and pants (over 150 styles) but recently launched tops as well, focusing on premium sweatshirts and hoodies. For example,they will carry the new line Rambler’s Way, which is temperature-regulating, organic wool comfortwear.

The apparel is strung to bars with carabiners in an easy-perusal display, which means no folding and unfolding in a big messy heap of sizes. After downloading the Hointer app, shoppers simply scan the bar codes and select their size, and robots will “teleport” the items to a fitting room within 30 seconds by dropping them down a chute with a “whoosh” sound. If a shopper decides against an item, he can drop it down a neighboring chute, and it will automatically be deleted from his virtual cart. If he wants a different size, he can request it on his phone from inside the fitting room. Then, he can pay for any clothing he wants by using a credit card scanner.

Shouraboura, who is the former head of Supply chain and Fulfillment Technologies at Amazon, is playfully secretive about her behind-the-scenes mechanisms. It could be wheels and levers, but for all we know, it also be a horde of special agent German robots, enlisted solely to deliver and put away clothes for Hointer shoppers. Shouraboura says only that it’s “all science, no magic.”

Along with the negligible social interaction, the efficient mystery robots are a key part of Shouraboura’s scheme to make buying clothes fun and approachable for the man who might shudder at the sight of a mall. Now, maybe he’ll even smile when you mention “shopping.”



Follow Us

16 Local Gifts for a Seattle Mother's Day

16 Local Gifts for a Seattle Mother’s Day

A funny candle, a meaningful necklace, and the best sundae in town

Let's talk about Mother's Day. It's a holiday that can feel a tad complex. Maybe you're planning to spoil your mom with a spa day, or maybe you're finding ways to honor her memory or handle some tricky emotions. No matter how you choose to celebrate, we’ve rounded up some fun and local gift ideas.

15 Valentine’s Day Gifts

15 Valentine’s Day Gifts

Fleece slippers, chocolate figs, and The Book of Love

Who doesn’t want to celebrate love and make someone (anyone!) feel special? So, whether you’re all in or not so much, if you’re looking for gift ideas, here are a few to consider...

The Best Gifts for Travel Lovers 

The Best Gifts for Travel Lovers 

Tinsel, eggnog, mistletoe, and luggage

Travel lovers are the easiest people to buy for. Wrap a gift in old maps and they’ll spend hours deciphering the roadways and important coordinates. Put something inside the wrapping that will satiate their wanderlust, or encourage it, and you might be their next invitee to Paris.

Black Black Friday launches in Seattle

Black Black Friday launches in Seattle

The event is designed to boost Black-owned businesses

An initiative launched in Seattle encourages residents to spend money at Black-owned businesses, starting on Black Friday. Called Black Black Friday, the movement was organized by Laura Clise, founder and CEO of the Intentionalist, an online directory of thousands of small businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, LBGTQ+, families, and differently abled people,…