Monday, April 10, 2017 by D. Samuelson
The new hip Amazon GO store, where customers can walk in, find what the want, and leave without ever waiting in line isn’t going anywhere for the moment. Verge.com reports that although the mega company had plans to open their flagship store in Seattle, Washington in late March of 2017, the technologies used to build the concept haven’t figured out a way to track more than twenty shoppers at a time. Some old school folks may think there’s something comforting about this setback.
The folks at Geekwire.com looked into Amazon’s original patent filings, which were put into place about two years ago. One troubling detail explains that if the computers can’t recognize what you just picked up and placed into your knapsack, it will just take a look at your purchase history from that inventory area and assume, for example, that it’s a bottle of ketchup, like last time. But what if it isn’t? After you walk out the door, or, “as the user passes through the exit (transition area) without having to stop,” the system tracking you will know that you’re leaving and charge you accordingly on your Amazon account. But is there anyone to reason with if the computer misidentified an item or two and charged you too much?
The patent filings also talk about a technology labeled “sensor fusion.” This is a fancy word for a whole lot of detailed input from multiple devices embedded everywhere to track and monitor everything and everybody in the Amazon GO store. Besides analyzing pictures of you and what you’re buying, the items are tracked via a specific inventory as well as being scanned for weight and shape, and then compared to other items in that specific inventory. No word on whether the Amazon GO stores carry true, raw organic almonds, or organic chia seeds.
All that being said, a while back the Amazon marketing folks put together a promotional video. It features lots of happy, smiling people who absolutely adore their servitude to any artificial intelligence beast system — as long as it makes the check out line disappear. The narrator explains the technology as a combination of “computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion, like you’d find in self driving cars.” As a sidebar, it appears to be about forty folks who are roaming this Amazon GO store.
Amazon was planning on the cashier free stores being part of an expansion process that includes retail locations and bookstores, grocery and warehouse stores. It’s not clear if this type of technology would be rolled out in their other establishments. As of yet, there’s no word on when the Amazon GO store may be able to reopen, nor has there been any response from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as of this writing. In the meantime, you can be assured the guys programming the robots are under a lot of pressure from their Amazon CEO. (RELATED: For more information on AI and current technology, check out tRobotics.news.)
(Photo credit: TheVerge.com)