In the race to take the world to the future, Amazon might just be winning. Its latest project, aptly called Amazon Go, will rely on various pieces of technology that will leave a store without cashiers. Theoretically, consumers will be able to enter the store, grab their items and go with a quick swipe of their smartphones.
As The Verge describes, the debut store is a 1800-square-foot retail space in Seattle - the company's hometown -- that allows individuals to take items directly off the shelves and walk out with the same. The charge is virtually made to the individual's Amazon account while walking out. Of course, the technology behind the story is much more complicated than that just that.
Amazon Go works by using computer vision and sensors to detect what items are being taken out of the store by specific individuals. Upon entering the space, individuals need to scan their account code and the sensors then follow and determine what items someone is taking with them. After getting everything that is needed, persons will simply walk out of the store and the items' prices will automatically be deducted from one's Amazon account.
The store will reportedly be stocked just like every standard grocery. Items for sale will range from pre-packed items to ready-to-eat meals. It will also have fresh offerings such as bread and milk. Meal kits, which allow individuals to cook dinners for two, will be part of the roster as well.
The benefits for consumers are obvious at this point. The elimination of cashiers - while it may not be the most economical choice - does decrease the time spent in lines, paying in cash, waiting for change being bagged. It is even better than self-checking machines or fast checkouts. Furthermore, the system will allow Amazon to learn more about each individual customer. By virtually following an individual around a store and seeing what they are or are not interested in, Amazon can correctly recommend items that actually will important or interesting.
The concept is simple enough and there is no doubt that Amazon has the intelligence and know-how to see Amazon Go through. But as Computer World notes, there are questions to be answered in this particular space. One of the more obvious ones is how the store will stop thieves from taking advantage of the store. Physical thieves included, but there is also the threat of hackers. It is unclear how much security Amazon has to fight against these types of risks.
The publication also questions how fast Amazon technology is in terms of determining an item being picked up and returned. Computer vision is a wonderful piece of technology, but will it be able to spot a fast shopper in dire need of a simple can of soda, who whizzes past the entrance, through the aisles and back out in mere minutes? There are definite doubts which is exactly why Amazon is taking its time in examining its latest project.
Amazon Go is currently not available to the public yet. Its flagship store in Seattle is still undergoing beta testing with the help of Amazon employees. However, it is expected to be open to the public by early 2017.