Skip the queue with Amazon
After much speculation and more than a few teething problems, Amazon has finally unveiled the world’s first checkout-less supermarket: Amazon Go.
Almost a year later than initially planned, the new store opened for business on Monday the 22nd January in Seattle and could herald a new age for high street shopping.
With not one checkout in sight, Amazon’s new store allows customers to simply walk in through a turnstile, scan a code loaded to their ‘Amazon Go’ app, pick and choose items from the selves and leave as they please. The Amazon Go technology even accounts for items returned to the shelves, meaning you’ll only be charged for items you actually leave with – pretty smart.
Dubbed ‘just walk out’ technology by Amazon (which is also the shops mantra), the cutting edge technology relies on advanced machine learning and is similar to that found in driverless vehicles, using computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion. Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon Go, commented: "This technology didn't exist - it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning." Using hundreds of cameras and weight sensors, computers are able to track each customer through their shopping journey and have been trained to successfully identify products, people and patterns.
With users naturally interested in how accurate Amazon Go really is, some have been challenging the technology by trying to shoplift – to no avail. For the moment it seems like Amazon have worked out the kinks prior to their first public launch, although there is definitely time for the technology to be tested to its full capacity.
The introduction of Amazon Go raises some serious questions for the future of retail. With 3.5 million cashier jobs in America it is natural that some are worried that the new Seattle shop marks the first step toward full automation and a move closer to mass job losses. Whilst Amazon have commented that they are looking toward future expansion, there is still a lot to be learnt and it is unlikely that cashier-less shops will hit the mainstream for quite some time.
With Amazon Go in its infancy it still remains to be seen if the public will warm to the fully automated service or not, but this is definitely one to watch.