In its continued march to stomp out all retail stores that don’t carry its brand, Amazon has announced its own grocery store called Amazon Go. Of course, this being Amazon, it’s not just a grocery store: Amazon Go promises, “No lines, no checkouts, no registers.”
As you walk in, you’ll scan a QR code from the Amazon Go app on your phone, like a boarding pass in an airport. Then you grab the stuff you want and when you walk out, you’ll be charged the total amount. Amazon says that its “Just Walk Out” technology works using “computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion” to determine which customers have picked up which items. Those buzzwords aren’t very helpful in understanding how the store actually functions.
Is it tracking your location in the store via your phone and comparing that to when an item is removed from a shelf, and then putting two and two together? Are there cameras tracking each individual person in the store? What happens if two people grab an item at the same time? What happens if you put an item back down, but not in the spot you got it from (you monster)? How many times do you have to visit the store before you stop feeling like a shoplifter, or get comfortable walking out without triple-checking your receipt? Naturally, there are a lot of questions surrounding the store that Amazon has yet to answer.
Amazon has announced that the first Amazon Go store is coming in early 2017 to Seattle, but we’ll probably see more stores popping up in other trendy cities. If you don’t live in a cool, hip city, this trial store is presumably a proof-of-concept so that Amazon can sell this tech to other retailers, so if it does work properly, we might be seeing it pop up all over the country.
Watch Amazon’s announcement video below and find out more about Amazon Go here.