Amazon goes the brick and mortar way and you should know about their mind blowing technology of Amazon GO.
Here’s how it works:
The moment you enter an Amazon Go store, you scan your ID QR code to gain access. Only Amazon Prime members can shop at the store and must have the app on a smartphone. There are no cash registers or payment card machines. The app uses a number of systems including Geo Location to place you as the bonafide user of the app and thus the customer entering the store.
There is a very good chance that Amazon will connect your QR Code scan with facial recognition and cross confirm the customer’s identity. The Machine Learning system will easily track the customer through the store and the entire shopping visit.
Amazon is using a large spectrum of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and deep learning garnered from decades of being a retailer. It starts with the hardware that includes image sensors using camera optics, LIDAR arrays using laser sensing and other technology to correctly identify the item on a shelf, taken off the shelf, returned back to the shelf or taken out of the store.
The hardware is assisted by the 2009 acquisition of SnapTell by Amazon. They developed image recognition technology that could identify a huge number of popular products just by their images. By 2014 Amazon integrated this technology in its app for what has become known as “show rooming”. This allows consumers to visit a local store, take a picture of a product and instantly get a price comparison. This technology has been actively scanning items at Amazon’s distribution center for over 6 years. This has build a Machine Learning system that has a high degree of accuracy.
Every item in Amazon Go can be identified in seconds with just about 30% of the product visible with the current technology. Some of the identification is assisted by the absolute location of the item on the shelf and the position of the customer. There are other sensors that may also be in use with some items.
All of these sensors confirm the accuracy of the item. Over time as more customers shop at Amazon Go stores the accuracy will increase to over the 99 percentile. The system is an order of magnitude more complex then the current self-checkout systems that use a very minimal degree of AI.
Just like when you visit a website and you are logged in, the Amazon Go shopping experience is tracking all of your shopping behaviors. Over time this will inform Amazon on the exact placement of products and how consumers may interact with them. Machine Learning about the amount of time spent in the store and the transverse path you make through the store will assist Amazon in creating customized, on demand discounts related to your current or prior buying behavior.
The sum total of AI, ML and advance sensors is combined in a way that has never been seen before. It is a fundamental shift in how retail sales and retail payments will take place in the future.
The short answer is that it is an amalgamation of:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Machine Learning
- Image recognition
- An array of “Fusion sensors”
- Decades of data on how humans shop
When Amazon invented 1-Click buying in 1997, it was said by many observers “This is crazy, it’s too fast. There will be too many false transactions”. It turns out after decades of 1-click by Amazon and Apple (a licensee) this is not even a rounding error of error cases.
Amazon perfected 1-click shopping at the dawn of web commerce. No company in the world has more data about buying behaviour related to this type of system. Amazon also is expert in identifying products using image recognition. Combine this with the Fusion Sensors that cross confirm the new virtual “shopping cart” you create not only just by taking an item in your hand, but also by putting it back, there is actually even less of a likelihood of an erroneous transaction.
Amazon Go Ends Check Out Lines And Cash Registers
It’s called “just walk out” technology and when you walk out, your purchase is complete with a receipt in your app, charged to your Amazon account. This is achieved by an entryway that is similar to the subway turnstiles that you see in major cities. Yes this sounds like magic, retail magic.
A smartphone with the app installed is required to enter the store via presenting a bar-code to a sensor. This bar-code scan (along with other sensor technology e.g: GPS, etc) tracks that you have entered the store, identifies you’re moving through the store and then identifies the product you pick up. To complete your shopping experience just walk out the door. Yes, that’s it. The image recognition combined with a sensor fusion of technologies has already confirmed your order and totaled it up. All billed to your future Amazon Bank Card, but currently to the payment card you have on file with them, the nearing 1 billion payment cards they have on file.
The End Of Shoplifting?
This Amazon magic is all achieved through a number of very advanced technologies. The most fundamental is the use of hundreds of image sensing cameras. Using advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, Amazon can detect a product that is not only missing from the shelves, being held in your hands, put into a bag, or even under a shirt. Yes, Amazon has solved shoplifting almost entirely.
Members Only, No Cash Or Credit Cards Accepted
Amazon is fundamentally changing everything we thought we knew about retail sales. They have merged AI and ML data science that they just about invented for online sales and meshed it for a unique retail buying experience. The ideas here are familiar and can be found at play at Apple stores when using the Apple store App and self check out. Amazon took it to the highest degree, there is no self check out. Like a buying club or Costco store, you have to be an Amazon Prime member to complete a transaction. In fact they don’t accept cash or payment cards in the store, there are no credit card machines and there are no cash registers or POS systems. This is the beginning of the end of the POS system.
A Hybrid Of Everything Amazon Learned Online
Amazon Go is the hybrid of many technologies and ideas that started with the very first website Amazon created. When Jeff Bezos invented and patented the 1-click shopping experience, that Apple licensed later, few could imagine it could come to retail stores. It is the paramount amalgamation of:
- 1-click-like web shopping in retail
- Powerful App using location based services
- QR Code IDs
- Integrated Payment
- Image Recognition
- Multiple Sensor Technology
- Artificial Intelligence
- Machine Learning