Have you seen the new initiative, Amazon Go?
It’s a ‘just walk out’ physical grocery store with no checkouts, and it’s the ambitious plan by Amazon to take on traditional supermarkets.
An app allows customers to swipe their smartphones when they enter the store. RFID technology then senses when an item is picked up off the shelf. This information then syncs with a customer’s app using a mix of artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine learning similar to a self-driving car. Amazon has not offered any other details on how the technology works. Also when an item is put back on the shelf, it also deletes itself from the app.
Sensors pick up when the customer is leaving and adds up their items, provides a receipt and charges their Amazon account automatically. No need to queue or fuss with self-service checkouts!
Amazon’s new retail experience and technology platform opens it up to taking on more of our everyday activities.
While physical stores could be a win for communities, the potential applications of the ‘just walk out’ technology for transport, restaurants, bars, tourism and entertainment is interesting.
Imagine walking straight into the cinema and finding a seat. Sitting down would then signal you’ve bought a movie ticket and you’re automatically billed.
How about stopping transport fare evasion with sensors that know when a person is on a train? A person’s phone could be automatically charged when they leave.
Another exciting technology challenging our retail experience is location-based beacons, which has already changed the way some customers interact in-store. This Bluetooth technology communicates with shoppers via their phone, providing store maps, special deals and other useful information.
If we are going to see these innovative technologies grace our cities, local governments need to ambitiously plan and deploy programs that encourage their use.
City open-data initiatives are a great way to start, empowering citizens to develop apps and new ways of enhancing local experiences. Information from sanitation scores, ride share programs, recycling to parking availability could be revamped in the process.
Amazon’s pioneering fresh look technology and store experiences are a welcomed addition to the tech scene. It shows us what is possible and how our everyday activities can always be transformed.