After more than a year of testing, Amazon has launched its first automated grocery store where customers can walk in, pick up the items they want, and walk out, all without going through a checkout process. Sounds pretty dreamy, and if it’s successful, the store has the potential to alter grocery stores as we know them. Say goodbye to the checkout line! The store is known as Amazon Go, and it relies on cameras and sensors to monitor customer activity. Pick up a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and the shelf will know it’s gone and charge you accordingly. If you decide you don’t want the Honey Nut Cheerios after all, well too bad, you’re forced to buy them! Totally kidding, just put them back on the shelf and Amazon will again adjust its inventory. No harm no foul! That’s not to say Amazon Go is perfect. Check out a description from Reuters below about some of its flaws, and read the full article here.
But there have been challenges, according to a person familiar with the matter. These included correctly identifying shoppers with similar body types, the person said. When children were brought into the store during the trial, they caused havoc by moving items to incorrect places, the person added.
Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, said in an interview that the store worked very well throughout the test phase, thanks to four years of prior legwork.
“This technology didn’t exist,” Puerini said, walking through the Seattle store. “It was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”
“If you look at these products, you can see they’re super similar,” she said of two near-identical Starbucks drinks next to each other on a shelf. One had light cream and the other had regular, and Amazon’s technology learned to tell them apart.
How exactly does it work? Reuters has a great detailed description below:
To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile.
Ready-to-eat lunch items greet shoppers when they enter. Deeper into the store, shoppers can find a small selection of grocery items, including meats and meal kits. An Amazon employee checks IDs in the store’s wine and beer section.
Sleek black cameras monitoring from above and weight sensors in the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people take.
If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged. If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.
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