Jan 22 2018

Cashierless Amazon Go Store Opens in Seattle

Computer vision, sensor technology and mobile apps will enable customers at Amazon's new convenience store to simply walk out with goods.

More than a year after Amazon trumpeted it with much fanfare, the retailing giant’s high-tech convenience store, Amazon Go, is opening to the public in Seattle.

The store looks like a high-end convenience store and what sets it apart is this simple fact: Customers can walk in, shop for what they want and walk out without having a human cashier check them out of the store.

As The New York Times reports, customers walk in through what appear to be subway station turnstiles to enter the store. Shoppers must have the Amazon Go mobile app on their smartphones to enter, which they scan at the turnstiles to be allowed in.

Customers then can pick out goods as they would in any other similar store. But when they check out, they simply leave and don’t have to stop to pay. Instead, their Amazon account is automatically charged for what they picked up as they exit.

How does that all work? As Recode reports:

The store is outfitted with cameras and shelf sensors to help Amazon’s computer vision system work some magic. The technologies, in turn, connect you and the phone you scanned at the entrance with the items you grabbed off of shelves and carried out the door. On rare occasions, a human is needed to confirm that the technology got it right.

Hundreds of cameras, computer vision technology and machine learning algorithms allow Amazon to detect which item a customer has picked up off a shelf. When they do so, that item is added to their account, Amazon says, and if they put it back on the shelf, it is removed from their virtual shopping cart.  

While early visits by reporters to the store show that the technology works, Recode notes that, “The real tests, however, will come during normal shopping days when, say, the store gets crowded, or an item is removed from one shelf and placed on another, or two people who have similar appearances are shopping in close proximity to each other.”

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