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Amazon to open first supermarket without checkouts

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22 January 2018

Amazon will today open its first supermarket without checkouts, human or self-service without checkouts. The move could revolutionise the way groceries are bought according to commentators.

Amazon Go, which has been tested in Seattle for year, uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer and track what items they select, eliminating the need for billing. The bills are raised on customers' credit cards when they leave the store.

Before they enter, shoppers need to scan the Amazon Go smartphone app and sensors on the shelves and add items to the bill as customers pick them up and the ones they put back are deleted.

The store opened to employees of the online retail giant in December 2016 and was expected to allow the public in more quickly.

However, there were a number of teething problems with correct identification of shoppers of similar body types, and children moving items to the wrong places on shelves, according to an Amazon insider, BBC reported.

Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon Go, said the store had operated well during the test phase.

"This technology didn't exist - it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning," BBC reported.

The company claims the tracking is precise enough to distinguish between multiple people standing side-by-side at a shelf, detecting which one picked up a yogurt or cupcake, for example, and which one was merely browsing.

The idea is to ''push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning'' to create an ''effortless experience for customers,'' said Dilip Kumar, Amazon Go vice president of technology, Geekwire reported.

Commentators point out that it might be common for a convenience store to be sparsely staffed, but if taken to the scale of a grocery store, it can be easily appreciated how Amazon Go's automated approach could translate into less need for retail workers, at least at checkout.





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