Amazon’s Automated Store Opens To The Public
Imagine opening the Amazon Go app on your phone, scanning a QR code at a turnstile and watching silently as a pair of electronic arms is welcoming you in the store.
You take a quick look around and see that the convenience store is full of Amazon employees as you head to the cold drinks section, grab a diet Coke and walk towards the exit.
At no point do you touch your wallet or your phone to pay for the can? You simply walk out.
The exciting real-world shopping experiment was born six years ago when Amazon executives first started toying with the idea of offering a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout.
The store, which opened to the public last week, is one of the first shops of its kind in that there are no cashiers to be found.
Once you get there, all you need to do is scan the Amazon GO app on your phone at a turnstile and enter the store.
Everything that happens past that point is fully computerized and each of your purchases will be registered (and charged to your Amazon account) by the “world’s most advanced shopping technology” installed at the store.
Basically, you get to go a store, grab what you want and just go. No cashiers and traditional checkout lines, no nothing.
I wasn’t all smooth sailing for Amazon, though. The company first failed to meet its original deadline to open the 1,800-square-foot convenience store in “early 2017, and then faced strong criticism for what was perceived as an attempt to gradually replace humans with technology – a notion that Amazon was quick to deny.
The company is pretty tight-lipped when it comes to the technology that it’s powering its new convenience store, although it did say that much of it (computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning) is already used in self-driving cars.
Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go said these technologies form the heart of Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” system, which detects the products that are taken as well as the ones that are returned to shelves.
Amazon spent a lot of time to iron out the technological challenges that threatened to further delay the store launch.
The company faced great difficulties in getting the cameras to be able to make a 100% positive ID on any particular item in the store, which was achieved with the help of the hundreds of sensors fitted on the store’s shelves.
Another glaring problem that needed addressing was getting the cameras to handle multiple people shopping at the same time, particularly when moving quickly and standing closely together.
In terms of security and reliability, Ms. Puerini said the system cannot be fooled with disguises, as it doesn’t use facial recognition or phone tracking.