No lines, no cashiers, no embarrassing self-checkout registers that remind us we clearly aren’t qualified to scan a simple bag of frozen peas.
That’s the vision for Amazon Go, the e-commerce giant’s new, 1,800 square-foot retail space located in Seattle, Washington. Patrons simply grab what they want, and Amazon charges their accounts later.
The system works by using computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning (the same technologies utilized in self-driving cars, according to the company) to detect what you put in your virtual cart. This “Just Walk Out” technology, enabled by the free Amazon Go app, also keeps track of what you return to the shelves and, ultimately, what you walk out with.
Amazon’s vision is to create the grocery store of the future, an experience that is simultaneously quick, convenient, and personal.
“We offer delicious ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made fresh every day by our on-site chefs and favorite local kitchens and bakeries,” the Amazon Go website states. “Our selection of grocery essentials ranges from staples like bread and milk, to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates…For a quick home-cooked dinner, pick up one of our chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, with all the ingredients you need to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.”
While Amazon Go is currently open only to employees in a Beta program, the company does plan to open its doors to the public in 2017.
On a consumer level, the benefits are obvious: no waiting, no lines, and (kudos to Amazon for solving this) no shoplifting. Conversely, however, the idea that a receipt with your spending total is sent to you after the fact is probably a little dangerous—like the little kid who throws four cereal boxes into the shopping cart when mom isn’t looking (except that in this scenario we are simultaneously both child and parent.)
Of course, to create such a personable shopping experience, one does have to wonder how much personal information is being tracked—and how Amazon plans to use it. In a day and age when we can’t even log onto Facebook without seeing a customized ad (based on metrics you unknowingly supplied to Google just ten minutes prior), I’m sure the idea that a wholesome, brick-and-mortar market is no longer safe will be an unsettling pill for many people to swallow.
But positive and negatives aside, I’m sure we can, at the very least, all agree that the FAA is probably breathing a sigh of relief that grocer-less grocery stores, and not drones, is what the company seems to be focusing on in terms of enhanced customer experience.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)