Microsoft May Be Developing Amazon Go-Type Cashierless Tech
Grocers looking to eliminate their shoppers’ checkout woes with the same type of technology that Amazon is employing in its expanding Amazon Go format may soon have a major technology company on their side to help: Microsoft.
According to Reuters, which cited people familiar with the matter, the Redmond, Wash.-based company is creating systems that can track what a shopper adds to his cart, and have even shown sample technology to retailers around the world. One of those retailers is Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, which has reportedly been in talks about “a potential collaboration.”
Microsoft has reasons beyond retail technologies to seek heightened competition with the Seattle-based ecommerce giant, however: For instance, Microsoft currently ranks No. 2 behind Amazon in selling cloud services key to running ecommerce sites, Reuters noted.
Amazon’s own Amazon Go employs “just walk out” technology to make its operations truly cashier-free, using computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to detect when products are removed from, or replaced on, shelves. Shoppers enter by downloading and checking in via a mobile app at a turnstile near the entrance, take what they want, and are charged upon exiting the store.
The only Amazon Go store currently open is in Seattle, and it suffered a 10-month delay in opening to the public due to a number of issues with the technology. Sources have reported additional locations coming to San Francisco and Chicago, with two specific sites named just a week ago for the Windy City.
While Amazon and Microsoft might be the two major technology companies creating cashierless stores stateside that are truly “grab-and-go,” Alibaba in China has operated a convenience-store format in China for several years. Bingobox stores rely on RFID instead of computer vision for their own “grab-and-walk-out” stores. However, tagging every single item with an RFID label is burdensome and costly, according to Dilip Kumar, VP of technology at Amazon Go, who recently shared his learnings from developing and fixing the format’s technology prior to the first store’s public debut.