Amazon launches cashier-free convenience store: walk in, grab what you want and go

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,617   +124
Staff member

Shoring up rumors on the matter, Amazon on Monday expanded its reach within the grocery industry with the trial launch of Amazon Go, a new type of store that could revolutionize the grocery shopping experience (assuming it takes root, of course). Here’s how it works.

Amazon Go is a shopping experience with no lines, no checkouts and no registers. To enter the store, just open the Amazon app on your smartphone and scan it as you enter. From there, simply put your phone up and shop as you normally would.

Amazon says that anything you pick up is automatically added to a virtual cart that’s associated with your account (similarly, anything you put back on the shelf is removed from your cart). When you’ve got everything you need, simply walk out of the store and you’ll be billed for your purchase directly through your Amazon account.

The technology, dubbed Just Walk Out, uses machine learning, computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion that Amazon says is similar to what you’d find in self-driving cars. A detailed explanation of exactly how it works will have to wait, unfortunately, as Amazon isn’t yet ready to share that information.

Amazon is currently testing the concept at a new 1,800 square-foot store in Seattle with select Amazon employees that are participating in the beta. There’s certainly more questions than answers at this stage although I suspect most of those will be answered in the coming weeks and months as Amazon aims to open the store to the public early next year.

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D

davislane1

This is going to be pretty interesting when they have a computer problem.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,643   +936
Seems to all just be buzz words right now. I'll believe that they can make this work once it is a successful store that is open to the public.
 

Rippleman

Posts: 871   +393
I can hear it already for a certain segment of the population: "Will it take my food stamps?"

also can see all the privacy freaks already crying: "what about my food privacy?"
 

OutlawCecil

Posts: 738   +562
Can we address the one flaw in this idea?

If I don't scan my phone... I can walk in, take what I want, and walk out for free...
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,286
I'm confused. Who do I point my piece at now when I storm inside with my balaclava hiding my mug, demanding the cashier handover the days takings? I hope all businesses don't follow Amazon's example if it proves to be successful. It's too late for me now to consider a career change now. :p:D
 
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Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442
Can we address the one flaw in this idea?

If I don't scan my phone... I can walk in, take what I want, and walk out for free...
It's no different than a regular store in that regard. You are still on camera and Amazon probably has far better security than your local grocery store or general merchandise store.
 

Bubbajim

Posts: 720   +694
Can we address the one flaw in this idea?

If I don't scan my phone... I can walk in, take what I want, and walk out for free...
Does where you live not have anything with barriers? Like a train station or airport, perhaps?

I don't think it's too much of a stretch of the ol' imagination to think that you won't be able to get into the store unless you've scanned a valid Amazon app associated with a particular phone/account.
 

Phr3d

Posts: 404   +87
Quote: "[SIZE=6]cashier-free convenience store"[/SIZE]

Some people are not noticing the wording. This DOES NOT mean UNATTENDED.
ayep, the camera angle is too tight to show the Transformer at the exit door (look at that CU-uute little android, honey).
 

learninmypc

Posts: 9,279   +686
I just watched a story on it from reporter Natachen Chen & they have cameras ALL over the place to catch your facial expression & much more, hmmm
 

GreenNova343

Posts: 440   +330
"To enter the store, just open the Amazon app on your smartphone and scan it as you enter. From there, simply put your phone up and shop as you normally would.

Amazon says that anything you pick up is automatically added to a virtual cart that’s associated with your account (similarly, anything you put back on the shelf is removed from your cart). "

So...

I thought at first this was something where they would have you scan the bar code from your phone. If you don't have to have your phone out to scan, then that means they're depending on the following:
-- RFID tags on the items (so that they can detect when specific items are picked off the shelf)
-- RFID tags or scanners built into the shopping basket/cart (so that it can detect when something is put in or taken out)

I can see some potential issues (not that they'll always happen, but could happen):
-- This isn't going to work for someone that literally needs to run in & buy 1 or 2 items off the shelf on the way home. A lot of times when my wife & I are out & it's not the regular grocery run, we don't bother with a basket, let alone a cart. If you're just picking up a gallon of milk or some other relatively small item, we don't take the time to pick up the basket because it's a) bulky & b) a hassle that we don't need. So now you'll *have* to use a basket, even if you don't "need" it to carry your stuff.
-- For the baskets & carts to be able to scan the RFID tags, they'll need power. So the store is going to have a much larger utility bill, since it has to keep charging the batteries in the baskets & carts. Which causes a problem if your particular basket or cart isn't charged up or has a bad battery. Not to mention that the baskets will now be heavier (since they'll have the RFID scanner & battery built into them); at least the carts can always put the equipment underneath so it doesn't take up extra space, although I hate to think of how they'll stand up to outside conditions in the parking lot -- rain, sleet, snow, cold, heat, dings in the cart corrals, being hit by drivers, etc.
-- There's a question in my mind about how the inventory is tracked during the shopping trip, especially without knowing how sensitive the RFID tag readers will be. Sometimes, you go to the grocery store & it's pretty empty; other times, it's so packed you have 4 people trying to squeeze through the same aisle at the same time. If the RFID tag reader is built into the rim of the basket/cart, then it might be OK (because it can only activate the reader if it physically passes all 4 strips); but if it's just based on proximity to the reader, then you could have the situation of person A putting an item into their cart, but person B's cart also reads it as being bought because their carts are right next to each other. An inventory control database could help with that, provided that a) the tag readers are constantly connected to it (I.e. not just at "checkout"), & b) they actually use RFID tags with unique identifiers (unlike UPC codes, where every box of Wheaties has the same UPC code, you'd have to have the tags be unique so that box #20 of Wheaties has a completely different ID than boxes # 19 & 21, or box #307).
-- Leading off of the last issue, they're going to need a *ton* of RFID tags, all with unique IDs. And I don't mean just for when they open, because every new item that comes in will need a brand-new RFID tag on it with its own ID. It may not seem like a lot, but consider that depending on the store size you might have 100 gallons of milk, 200 boxes of butter/margarine, 300 boxes of cereal, 1,000 cans of fruit, etc., available on day 1. Let's say that works out to 20,000 unique items in your store. Except that you have to replenish your stock. Even if you only have to completely replace your inventory once a week, that's just over *1 million* RFID tags (1,040,000, to be exact) needed in the year...for *one* store. If you have to replace your stock more often, that's a lot more RFID tags. And aside from the need for unique IDs for them, that's the problem of *manufacturing* that many... unless you want to institute a "turn in your RFID tags" program (& assuming they can be reprogrammed with a new ID).
-- And then there's produce. Sure, you can simply sell "fresh" produce in pre-bagged amount (with the RFID tag stuck to or built into the bag). But that only works if you need, say, two pounds of tomatoes or 5 pounds of apples. Some people (like myself) don't always need that many. So say goodbye to being able to buy a single onion or avocado, or individual watermelons and spaghetti squash... unless they come shrinkwrapped (which, I would imagine, is not good for their freshness, or your ability to determine how fresh they still are).
 

learninmypc

Posts: 9,279   +686
"To enter the store, just open the Amazon app on your smartphone and scan it as you enter. From there, simply put your phone up and shop as you normally would.

Amazon says that anything you pick up is automatically added to a virtual cart that’s associated with your account (similarly, anything you put back on the shelf is removed from your cart). "

So...

I thought at first this was something where they would have you scan the bar code from your phone. If you don't have to have your phone out to scan, then that means they're depending on the following:
-- RFID tags on the items (so that they can detect when specific items are picked off the shelf)
-- RFID tags or scanners built into the shopping basket/cart (so that it can detect when something is put in or taken out)

I can see some potential issues (not that they'll always happen, but could happen):
-- This isn't going to work for someone that literally needs to run in & buy 1 or 2 items off the shelf on the way home. A lot of times when my wife & I are out & it's not the regular grocery run, we don't bother with a basket, let alone a cart. If you're just picking up a gallon of milk or some other relatively small item, we don't take the time to pick up the basket because it's a) bulky & b) a hassle that we don't need. So now you'll *have* to use a basket, even if you don't "need" it to carry your stuff.
-- For the baskets & carts to be able to scan the RFID tags, they'll need power. So the store is going to have a much larger utility bill, since it has to keep charging the batteries in the baskets & carts. Which causes a problem if your particular basket or cart isn't charged up or has a bad battery. Not to mention that the baskets will now be heavier (since they'll have the RFID scanner & battery built into them); at least the carts can always put the equipment underneath so it doesn't take up extra space, although I hate to think of how they'll stand up to outside conditions in the parking lot -- rain, sleet, snow, cold, heat, dings in the cart corrals, being hit by drivers, etc.
-- There's a question in my mind about how the inventory is tracked during the shopping trip, especially without knowing how sensitive the RFID tag readers will be. Sometimes, you go to the grocery store & it's pretty empty; other times, it's so packed you have 4 people trying to squeeze through the same aisle at the same time. If the RFID tag reader is built into the rim of the basket/cart, then it might be OK (because it can only activate the reader if it physically passes all 4 strips); but if it's just based on proximity to the reader, then you could have the situation of person A putting an item into their cart, but person B's cart also reads it as being bought because their carts are right next to each other. An inventory control database could help with that, provided that a) the tag readers are constantly connected to it (I.e. not just at "checkout"), & b) they actually use RFID tags with unique identifiers (unlike UPC codes, where every box of Wheaties has the same UPC code, you'd have to have the tags be unique so that box #20 of Wheaties has a completely different ID than boxes # 19 & 21, or box #307).
-- Leading off of the last issue, they're going to need a *ton* of RFID tags, all with unique IDs. And I don't mean just for when they open, because every new item that comes in will need a brand-new RFID tag on it with its own ID. It may not seem like a lot, but consider that depending on the store size you might have 100 gallons of milk, 200 boxes of butter/margarine, 300 boxes of cereal, 1,000 cans of fruit, etc., available on day 1. Let's say that works out to 20,000 unique items in your store. Except that you have to replenish your stock. Even if you only have to completely replace your inventory once a week, that's just over *1 million* RFID tags (1,040,000, to be exact) needed in the year...for *one* store. If you have to replace your stock more often, that's a lot more RFID tags. And aside from the need for unique IDs for them, that's the problem of *manufacturing* that many... unless you want to institute a "turn in your RFID tags" program (& assuming they can be reprogrammed with a new ID).
-- And then there's produce. Sure, you can simply sell "fresh" produce in pre-bagged amount (with the RFID tag stuck to or built into the bag). But that only works if you need, say, two pounds of tomatoes or 5 pounds of apples. Some people (like myself) don't always need that many. So say goodbye to being able to buy a single onion or avocado, or individual watermelons and spaghetti squash... unless they come shrinkwrapped (which, I would imagine, is not good for their freshness, or your ability to determine how fresh they still are).
"Shopping cart"? I believe they're talking about a virtual one, NOT 4 wheeled one. The story I saw on KIRO7 showed no cart you mentioned. I've seen RFID tags on individual produce in regular stores.
 

GreenNova343

Posts: 440   +330
"To enter the store, just open the Amazon app on your smartphone and scan it as you enter. From there, simply put your phone up and shop as you normally would.

Amazon says that anything you pick up is automatically added to a virtual cart that’s associated with your account (similarly, anything you put back on the shelf is removed from your cart). "

So...

I thought at first this was something where they would have you scan the bar code from your phone. If you don't have to have your phone out to scan, then that means they're depending on the following:
-- RFID tags on the items (so that they can detect when specific items are picked off the shelf)
-- RFID tags or scanners built into the shopping basket/cart (so that it can detect when something is put in or taken out)

I can see some potential issues (not that they'll always happen, but could happen):
-- This isn't going to work for someone that literally needs to run in & buy 1 or 2 items off the shelf on the way home. A lot of times when my wife & I are out & it's not the regular grocery run, we don't bother with a basket, let alone a cart. If you're just picking up a gallon of milk or some other relatively small item, we don't take the time to pick up the basket because it's a) bulky & b) a hassle that we don't need. So now you'll *have* to use a basket, even if you don't "need" it to carry your stuff.
-- For the baskets & carts to be able to scan the RFID tags, they'll need power. So the store is going to have a much larger utility bill, since it has to keep charging the batteries in the baskets & carts. Which causes a problem if your particular basket or cart isn't charged up or has a bad battery. Not to mention that the baskets will now be heavier (since they'll have the RFID scanner & battery built into them); at least the carts can always put the equipment underneath so it doesn't take up extra space, although I hate to think of how they'll stand up to outside conditions in the parking lot -- rain, sleet, snow, cold, heat, dings in the cart corrals, being hit by drivers, etc.
-- There's a question in my mind about how the inventory is tracked during the shopping trip, especially without knowing how sensitive the RFID tag readers will be. Sometimes, you go to the grocery store & it's pretty empty; other times, it's so packed you have 4 people trying to squeeze through the same aisle at the same time. If the RFID tag reader is built into the rim of the basket/cart, then it might be OK (because it can only activate the reader if it physically passes all 4 strips); but if it's just based on proximity to the reader, then you could have the situation of person A putting an item into their cart, but person B's cart also reads it as being bought because their carts are right next to each other. An inventory control database could help with that, provided that a) the tag readers are constantly connected to it (I.e. not just at "checkout"), & b) they actually use RFID tags with unique identifiers (unlike UPC codes, where every box of Wheaties has the same UPC code, you'd have to have the tags be unique so that box #20 of Wheaties has a completely different ID than boxes # 19 & 21, or box #307).
-- Leading off of the last issue, they're going to need a *ton* of RFID tags, all with unique IDs. And I don't mean just for when they open, because every new item that comes in will need a brand-new RFID tag on it with its own ID. It may not seem like a lot, but consider that depending on the store size you might have 100 gallons of milk, 200 boxes of butter/margarine, 300 boxes of cereal, 1,000 cans of fruit, etc., available on day 1. Let's say that works out to 20,000 unique items in your store. Except that you have to replenish your stock. Even if you only have to completely replace your inventory once a week, that's just over *1 million* RFID tags (1,040,000, to be exact) needed in the year...for *one* store. If you have to replace your stock more often, that's a lot more RFID tags. And aside from the need for unique IDs for them, that's the problem of *manufacturing* that many... unless you want to institute a "turn in your RFID tags" program (& assuming they can be reprogrammed with a new ID).
-- And then there's produce. Sure, you can simply sell "fresh" produce in pre-bagged amount (with the RFID tag stuck to or built into the bag). But that only works if you need, say, two pounds of tomatoes or 5 pounds of apples. Some people (like myself) don't always need that many. So say goodbye to being able to buy a single onion or avocado, or individual watermelons and spaghetti squash... unless they come shrinkwrapped (which, I would imagine, is not good for their freshness, or your ability to determine how fresh they still are).
"Shopping cart"? I believe they're talking about a virtual one, NOT 4 wheeled one. The story I saw on KIRO7 showed no cart you mentioned. I've seen RFID tags on individual produce in regular stores.
So how will it "know" that *you* have pulled the item off of the shelf, or that *you* have put it back? Yeah, you can maybe have the readers along the edge of the shelf to detect when the products cross that threshold, but you also need a method to tie those into a particular person. Otherwise, the poor schmuck who first entered the store could be on the hook for *everything* bought while they're there if no one else "checks in" on their app.

Since they're saying you don't need your phone out while shopping, you need an alternate method to tie "your" purchases to *you* specifically. Unless they're going to have your phone Bluetooth sync to every single item you pick up, the simplest method to track *your* purchases is going to be tying them into the basket or cartthat you're using to carry the items around...which will also mean some sort of pairing or tie-in to your Amazon account will be needed, to avoid having someone else's purchases getting tied into yours. Because even if it doesn't do the final "scan" until you're leaving the store, it needs a way to identify *your* purchases with "you" in particular. Otherwise, you could run into the situation where 2 people pick the same item (a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, for example), off the shelf at the same time; person A decides they're going to buy it, but person B decides they'll put it back. If the RFID tag reader is just reading when an item is pulled off the shelf, all the system knows is that 2 boxes were taken off the shelf, but 1 was put back. So how does it know that person A kept the box, instead of person B?

Which brings up the other issue: handling issues with checkout. Because we all know that no computer system is 100% free of glitches. Scrambled RFID tag IDs, Internet glitches with the profile, bad data entry, discrepancies between prices on the shelf labels & in the inventory database, sale prices that haven't been updated correctly (whether because the new price wasn't updated in the database, or the old price wasn't restored after the sale ended), customers will have to wait until they've exited the store (& then for the order to process into their account) before they can even see if it's correct or not. And unless you can view the virtual cart while still in the store, you won't be able to verify that a) everything in your physical cart is in the virtual cart, & b) everything you *don't* have in your physical cart anymore is also not in your virtual cart.
 

learninmypc

Posts: 9,279   +686
So how will it "know" that *you* have pulled the item off of the shelf, or that *you* have put it back? Yeah, you can maybe have the readers along the edge of the shelf to detect when the products cross that threshold, but you also need a method to tie those into a particular person. Otherwise, the poor schmuck who first entered the store could be on the hook for *everything* bought while they're there if no one else "checks in" on their app.

Since they're saying you don't need your phone out while shopping, you need an alternate method to tie "your" purchases to *you* specifically. Unless they're going to have your phone Bluetooth sync to every single item you pick up, the simplest method to track *your* purchases is going to be tying them into the basket or cartthat you're using to carry the items around...which will also mean some sort of pairing or tie-in to your Amazon account will be needed, to avoid having someone else's purchases getting tied into yours. Because even if it doesn't do the final "scan" until you're leaving the store, it needs a way to identify *your* purchases with "you" in particular. Otherwise, you could run into the situation where 2 people pick the same item (a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, for example), off the shelf at the same time; person A decides they're going to buy it, but person B decides they'll put it back. If the RFID tag reader is just reading when an item is pulled off the shelf, all the system knows is that 2 boxes were taken off the shelf, but 1 was put back. So how does it know that person A kept the box, instead of person B?

Which brings up the other issue: handling issues with checkout. Because we all know that no computer system is 100% free of glitches. Scrambled RFID tag IDs, Internet glitches with the profile, bad data entry, discrepancies between prices on the shelf labels & in the inventory database, sale prices that haven't been updated correctly (whether because the new price wasn't updated in the database, or the old price wasn't restored after the sale ended), customers will have to wait until they've exited the store (& then for the order to process into their account) before they can even see if it's correct or not. And unless you can view the virtual cart while still in the store, you won't be able to verify that a) everything in your physical cart is in the virtual cart, & b) everything you *don't* have in your physical cart anymore is also not in your virtual cart.
Watch this, previously posted link http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/ama...rocery-store-with-no-checkout-lines/473242598 Its about artificial Intelligence
 

Adhmuz

Posts: 2,062   +854
Simple, you must pass through an air lock type device, unless you scan your phone your not allowed in to the store and it simply ejects you out the side of the building. It could even be setup much like a conveyor in a factory scanning for defects, except it's scanning for your phone, no phone detected and you get ejected off the conveyor.
 

learninmypc

Posts: 9,279   +686
"To enter the store, just open the Amazon app on your smartphone and scan it as you enter. From there, simply put your phone up and shop as you normally would.

Amazon says that anything you pick up is automatically added to a virtual cart that’s associated with your account (similarly, anything you put back on the shelf is removed from your cart). "

So...

I thought at first this was something where they would have you scan the bar code from your phone. If you don't have to have your phone out to scan, then that means they're depending on the following:
-- RFID tags on the items (so that they can detect when specific items are picked off the shelf)
-- RFID tags or scanners built into the shopping basket/cart (so that it can detect when something is put in or taken out)

I can see some potential issues (not that they'll always happen, but could happen):
-- This isn't going to work for someone that literally needs to run in & buy 1 or 2 items off the shelf on the way home. A lot of times when my wife & I are out & it's not the regular grocery run, we don't bother with a basket, let alone a cart. If you're just picking up a gallon of milk or some other relatively small item, we don't take the time to pick up the basket because it's a) bulky & b) a hassle that we don't need. So now you'll *have* to use a basket, even if you don't "need" it to carry your stuff.
-- For the baskets & carts to be able to scan the RFID tags, they'll need power. So the store is going to have a much larger utility bill, since it has to keep charging the batteries in the baskets & carts. Which causes a problem if your particular basket or cart isn't charged up or has a bad battery. Not to mention that the baskets will now be heavier (since they'll have the RFID scanner & battery built into them); at least the carts can always put the equipment underneath so it doesn't take up extra space, although I hate to think of how they'll stand up to outside conditions in the parking lot -- rain, sleet, snow, cold, heat, dings in the cart corrals, being hit by drivers, etc.
-- There's a question in my mind about how the inventory is tracked during the shopping trip, especially without knowing how sensitive the RFID tag readers will be. Sometimes, you go to the grocery store & it's pretty empty; other times, it's so packed you have 4 people trying to squeeze through the same aisle at the same time. If the RFID tag reader is built into the rim of the basket/cart, then it might be OK (because it can only activate the reader if it physically passes all 4 strips); but if it's just based on proximity to the reader, then you could have the situation of person A putting an item into their cart, but person B's cart also reads it as being bought because their carts are right next to each other. An inventory control database could help with that, provided that a) the tag readers are constantly connected to it (I.e. not just at "checkout"), & b) they actually use RFID tags with unique identifiers (unlike UPC codes, where every box of Wheaties has the same UPC code, you'd have to have the tags be unique so that box #20 of Wheaties has a completely different ID than boxes # 19 & 21, or box #307).
-- Leading off of the last issue, they're going to need a *ton* of RFID tags, all with unique IDs. And I don't mean just for when they open, because every new item that comes in will need a brand-new RFID tag on it with its own ID. It may not seem like a lot, but consider that depending on the store size you might have 100 gallons of milk, 200 boxes of butter/margarine, 300 boxes of cereal, 1,000 cans of fruit, etc., available on day 1. Let's say that works out to 20,000 unique items in your store. Except that you have to replenish your stock. Even if you only have to completely replace your inventory once a week, that's just over *1 million* RFID tags (1,040,000, to be exact) needed in the year...for *one* store. If you have to replace your stock more often, that's a lot more RFID tags. And aside from the need for unique IDs for them, that's the problem of *manufacturing* that many... unless you want to institute a "turn in your RFID tags" program (& assuming they can be reprogrammed with a new ID).
-- And then there's produce. Sure, you can simply sell "fresh" produce in pre-bagged amount (with the RFID tag stuck to or built into the bag). But that only works if you need, say, two pounds of tomatoes or 5 pounds of apples. Some people (like myself) don't always need that many. So say goodbye to being able to buy a single onion or avocado, or individual watermelons and spaghetti squash... unless they come shrinkwrapped (which, I would imagine, is not good for their freshness, or your ability to determine how fresh they still are).
http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/ama...rocery-store-with-no-checkout-lines/473242598