Amazon is injecting the Internet of Things (IoT) into a beta real-world retail store that removes the need to interact with cashiers, relying on an app-based shopping experience instead.
Dubbed Amazon Go, the store is located in Amazon’s home city of Seattle and has 1,800 square foot of retail space but not a checkout till in sight.
Amazon Go works through the use of the company’s ‘Just Walk Out’ technology which uses a companion Go app and a combination of sensors, machine learning, and computer vision to track what people are taking off the shelves and then automatically charge their Amazon account for say a swiftly grabbed sandwich.
“Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store.”
While removing the tedium of queuing up at the tills and making forced small talk with a cashier as the barcode machine beeps away, Amazon Go could be seen as more than just a ‘seamless’ shopping experience.
Rather it is a practical showcase of the IoT in full effect beyond the industrial world of sensor draped robots; something that is still rather lacking in the real-world despite the claim that interconnected IoT networks are on the rise beyond simple smart bins and lighting.
What Amazon has demonstrated is how a combination on apps, data, sensors and smart software can deliver the future promised by the rise of IoT.
However, this does come at the cost of privacy, as users of Amazon Go are effectively parting with data of their physical world shopping habits, thereby likely to enable Amazon to find ever-more data driven way to sell them products relating to their personal tastes. Whether that is something to be viewed as an invasion of privacy or a clever way of delivering customised services is down to an individual’s point of view.