Amazon Go: A New Kind of Convenience Store
After a year of testing, Amazon finally opened its futuristic convenience store to the public this Monday. Located in Seattle, Amazon Go is a new kind of convenience store with no cashiers or checkout lines, creating an interesting and unique shopping experience.
Unlike stores that utilize traditional checkout methods, Amazon Go requires no human interaction, with all transactions being made wirelessly through the Amazon Go app. Customers simply walk in the store, bag their items, and walk out.
The technologies that run Amazon Go are both revolutionary and innovative. Computer vision and machine-learning algorithms track customers, identify their selections, and charge them accordingly. Once a customer scans their phone upon entering the store, Amazon Go’s system will recognize them internally as a 3-D object. Then, installed cameras, shelf sensors, and ceiling sensors will detect the customer’s interaction with the goods. With further testing and training, Amazon Go can improve its ability to identify objects and follow the speeds and patterns of different customers.
Amazon announced the concept back in December 2016 and expected it to go public in early 2017. However, recurring technical glitches resulting from crowding and excessive motion significantly delayed the launch. The computer system still has difficulty distinguishing between visually similar items when product labels are unintentionally obscured, so a few in-store employees are needed for troubleshooting as well as for the purchase of age-restricted goods.
Due to the cashier-less nature of Amazon Go, concerns have risen about whether this new technology will take jobs from retail workers. This seems to be a problem for the future, however, as former Amazon executives stated that it would take years to apply the technology to bigger stores. Mr. Kumar, the vice president of technology for Amazon Go, denied any plans of Whole Foods going cashier-less, but added that every project should be expandable.