Amazon announced a new in-store shopping experience on Monday called “Amazon Go.” The idea is simple: it’s a store where you can walk in, take stuff and leave without ever visiting a checkout counter. Yes, you can pretend to be a shoplifter. Kind of.
You’ll need to have the Amazon app installed and, unlike a shoplifter, you’re actually paying for the goods you decide to take with you. Sorry, Winona Ryder. You’ll scan your phone as you walk in the store, according to the video above that demonstrates the technology, and Amazon will know what you’re picking up to take home.
“Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning,” Amazon explained. “Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”
This sounds kind of tricky, and I wonder how many people might accidentally either get charged for something they didn’t buy, or make off with goods they thought they paid for. The former reminds me of a hotel minibar fridge that can automatically detect when beer is removed, sometimes charging the guest even if he or she places it back.
Kind of like shoplifting.. but legal
Amazon’s first store will take the form of a grocery market with pre-made breakfast, lunch and dinner options, in addition to snacks, chocolates, cheeses and other products. In other words, you’re not going to walk in and out with an $8,000 UHD just yet, which suggests perhaps Amazon is still just confident enough in its technology that it wants to beta test with food first.
The first location will open at 2131 7th Ave in Seattle, Washington ,on 7th Ave and Blanchard in early 2017, when the public can begin entering the store. It’s already open for Amazon employees.