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Amazon forced to delay public launch of cashier-less grocery store

By Shawn Knight ยท 11 replies
Mar 27, 2017
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  1. Amazon Go, the cashier-less convenience store concept first teased by the e-commerce giant last year, has been in operation on a limited basis to company employees in Seattle since December.

    The store uses an array of cameras, sensors, machine learning and advanced algorithms to track items as customers pick them up off the shelves. Rather than go through the traditional checkout process, you simply walk out of the store with your items and they’re automatically charged to your Amazon account.

    According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, things have been going pretty smooth... so long as there are less than 20 people in the store and everyone moves slowly.

    Amazon is also struggling to keep tabs on items that have been moved from their designated spot on a shelf, sources say.

    The concept will be beneficial to both consumers as well as Amazon. Shoppers will be able to get in and out of the store much faster without having to go through a standard checkout process and without checkout lanes, Amazon wouldn’t need to hire nearly as many staff to tend to the store.

    The technical difficulties have unfortunately delayed the opening of the first Amazon Go store for use by the general public. The Journal notes that Amazon had hoped to open its doors to the public by the end of March but it is now unclear when that’ll take place as the kinks are being worked out.

    Permalink to story.

  2. This is the first of several delays. This technology works great on paper for warehouses. Retail spaces can go from orderly to utter chaos in minutes and the rate at which product moves about the retail space in those situations isn't anything to be scoffed at.

    When they get this technology nailed down, it will be licensed to other retailers to track product in real-time and optimize operations. That's where Amazon is going to make their biggest buck with this.
  3. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,960   +2,293

    That and eliminating the labor costs of unskilled labor jobs. If you look at things like the really advanced CNC machines paired with machine learning even skilled labor jobs will eventually be at risk.

    Just as a little thought experiment, what do you think a society would look like if machines and computers replaced all forms of labor?
  4. BadThad

    BadThad TS Booster Posts: 187   +92

    What about people that just walk in without "checking in"? What's to prevent a criminal from running in, grabbing some stuff and bolting. Also, leave it to humans to figure out a way to game the system. They will figure out how to trick it, for example, pulling something off the shelf, opening it, dumping the contents into their bag and putting the empty container back on the shelf? Where there's a will, there's a way.....criminals can be quite clever.
  5. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,164   +1,416

    Have you seen Wall-E? in case you haven't - it's a kids movie about a robot in the future after Earth is too polluted to live on anymore. Humans don't even walk, they just hover around in chairs with screens in front of their face. They're all too fat to move, and anytime someone falls out of their chair they're too out of shape to stand up. It's pretty funny actually.
  6. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,164   +1,416

    agreed - this idea sounds pretty far-fetched. They should be working on RFID tags on all the items so we can just swipe our card as we walk over a sensor with a basket full of stuff and everything tallied. I get it that they realize it's totally inefficient to pull an item on a shelf, put it in a basket, take it back out to scan a barcode, put it in a bag, and then put it back in the cart. That's a lot of steps - and if you shop at a place like Walmart you may as well bring a lawn chair for the line you'll be waiting in.

    The first store to figure this out will get TONS of extra customers just for the insta-check out. But Amazon using cameras to try to figure out shoppers as they shop?! That sounds like the most expensive, unreliable, and most difficult way to solve this problem.
  7. The same thing that happens in traditional brick and mortar stores: nothing (unless asset protection is there). The system will register the time stamp for when the item was removed from the stocked location, law enforcement will get the perp's face and the next time he goes into an Amazon store he'll be flagged and the cops will show up.

    Hard to say. Most likely, the species will go into decline due to plummeting birth rates and general decay. (See the rat utopia experiment for an example of what happens when you take a species and remove the need to work.) This is assuming an enterprising power network doesn't use the technology to enslave humanity to its will.
  8. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,421   +635

    They'll have to think of something in addition to that to account for people who take an item but change their minds and put it back but in the wrong place. It seems a lot of people don't bother putting it back in its original location. Just look around when you shop. What if a perp grabs an out of place item and walks off with it? Will the original customer get blamed? :)
  9. That's not how the review process works. Theoretically, it would all go down like this.

    1. The item would leave the store without an authorized transaction taking place.
    2. Appropriate staff would review who took the item from the store.
    3. They would review the tape to get further evidence leading up to the theft.
    4. Law enforcement would be given access to/forwarded the applicable tapes.
    5. They'd put out a notice for the perp and he'd be flagged the next time he went into an Amazon store.
  10. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,421   +635

    Fair enough but you said "removed from the stocked location" which not quite the same as your number 1.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  11. I skipped over the details in the first post. What I meant is that the item would be tracked from that point. If it's tracked, they can follow it to determine who had it and when.
  12. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,679   +4,024

    "According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, things have been going pretty smooth... so long as there are less than 20 people in the store and everyone moves slowly."

    So, the target market would be those that are in geriatric facilities ... or maybe cemeteries!!!!

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