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article imageNo cashiers or money needed at Amazon Go, a high-tech way to shop

By Karen Graham     Jan 22, 2018 in Technology
Seattle - Amazon Go, a grocery store that doesn't use cashiers or check-out lines, is opening to the public today at Amazon's Seattle, Washington campus after a year of beta testing of the new technology.
In what is Amazon's vision for brick-and-mortar stores of the future, the 1,800 square foot grocery store near the corner of 7th and Blanchard in Seattle is tiny, compared to grocery stores today. But it is compact and well stocked.
And the Amazon Go website says all you need is an Amazon account, the free Amazon Go app, and a recent-generation iPhone or Android phone. So basically, customers walk in, scan their Amazon Go app and take what they need. Once you have scanned your app, you can put your phone away. You won't need it to shop.
To check-out lines and no cashiers needed at Amazon Go.
To check-out lines and no cashiers needed at Amazon Go.
Amazon's "Just Walk Out" technology
Called "Just Walk Out" technology, it includes the same type of technologies used in self-driving cars - computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. This involves hundreds of regular and infrared cameras on the ceiling, computer-vision algorithms, and machine learning, all working together to detect your choices and charge them to your Amazon account.
The store has been in beta mode for Amazon employees for the past year. It was slated to open in the fall of 2017, but the opening was postponed due to problems with the technology, CNBC reports.
"The technology is something a traditional grocer would never be able to fund themselves," an expert told AdAge last year. "This is Amazon taking advantage of their other R&D programs, their willingness to experiment at scale."
Rachel Metz of MIT Technology Review tried out the new store and wrote Amazon Go might take some getting used to for many customers. "The whole experience was seamless and quick, and yet it was unnerving to have so little contact with other humans," she wrote. Other than a real employee standing near the alcoholic beverages to check customer ID's, no one bothers the customer.
Associates prep ingredients  make our ready-to-eat food  stock shelves  and help customers.
Associates prep ingredients, make our ready-to-eat food, stock shelves, and help customers.
The future of shopping?
We probably won't see this type of technology in our local grocery stores for another decade or so, but this technology does have implications for the future of our workforce. According to the Department of Labor, more than 3.5 million Americans held cashier jobs as of May 2016. Nearly 900,000 of those were in grocery stores.
The technology could make cashiers obsolete. However, Amazon says there are employees in its store, called associates. They are there to prep ingredients, make prepared items, greet customers and stock shelves. And as CNBC says, with President Trump's focus on creating jobs, the technology goes against his campaign promises.
More about Amazon, Amazon Go, hightech grocery store, machine learning, computer vision
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