Amazon today opened up its checkout-free grocery store "Amazon Go" to the Seattle public, continuing a plan that the company says has the potential to "dramatically alter brick-and-mortar retail" (via Reuters).

The new grocery store experience begins when customers walk through a turnstile and scan the Amazon Go app on their iOS [Direct Link] or Android device, which notifies the system that the customer is now in the store and shopping. Then, when they pick up an item and add it to their basket, cameras in the store and weight sensors on shelves associate each product to the customer who picked it up, and adds it to a virtual shopping list.

amazon go app and store
This tallies all of the items picked up by any one customer (and items returned to shelves are deducted from the total), so when they're done shopping all that needs to be done is to walk back out of the store through the turnstile. Amazon Go then charges the credit card users previously synced to the app and sends a receipt to the app's inbox, replacing the need to stand in a traditional checkout line.

Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, said in an interview that the store worked very well throughout the test phase, thanks to four years of prior legwork.

“This technology didn’t exist,” Puerini said, walking through the Seattle store. “It was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”

“If you look at these products, you can see they’re super similar,” she said of two near-identical Starbucks drinks next to each other on a shelf. One had light cream and the other had regular, and Amazon’s technology learned to tell them apart.

The official public opening comes over one year after Amazon began testing the store with employees in December 2016, a time in which the company learned how to fine tune the experience, according to people familiar with the tests. The camera system became better at identifying people with similar body types, and learned from the "havoc" caused by kids in the store who moved items to incorrect places on the weight-sensing shelves.

tc amazon go 1180007

Image of the camera system within Amazon Go via TechCrunch

The Seattle location is located within Amazon's office building in the city, and right now the company isn't confirming when it will expand Amazon Go to more cities. However, it did state that there are "no plans" to introduce the technology into Whole Foods, which it acquired in 2017.

For anyone in the city, you can visit Amazon Go Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., with food items ranging from dairy to ready-made Amazon Meal Kits and locally made chocolates.

Top Rated Comments

Tinmania Avatar
57 months ago
I'm not so sure how well this will work. As someone who worked in retail, customers would often pick up items and put them back in the wrong place. I wonder if the technology will be able to pick up on that.
I hate when I see that. And there is a special place in hell for people that leave frozen food items on a shelf for canned soup.

That said, I also think there could be issues with this system. I remember staying at a nice hotel on vacation. My 9 year old daughter was bored and thought it would be nice to make sure all the items in the mini bar were all facing forward. By lifting each one the hotel's billing system was triggered and automatically charged my room for a purchase--of everything in the mini bar. There was no "I put it back" functionality. Thankfully they refunded the huge charge I saw on my bill when checking out.

In the case of Amazon people might even game the system. Pick Up a 1 lb. bag of peanuts and also a 1 lb. bag of pistachios, which are priced very differently, and then return the bag of peanuts to the pistachios's shelf. Presto, get a bag of pistachios for peanuts. :)


Mike
[doublepost=1516636923][/doublepost]

Something I want to know - does it recognize when I put litter on the shelf? How does it respond to that?
Hopefully by banning you from the store.



Mike
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wlossw Avatar
57 months ago
I don’t see why they’re doing this. For years all we heard about was how brick and mortar stores were at a huge disadvantage to internet-based stores. Is this a hedge against shipping costs??
It’s a grocery store. The items for sale are food or convenience items that are impractical to deliver.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheRealTVGuy Avatar
57 months ago
Pick Up a 1 lb. bag of peanuts and also a 1 lb. bag of pistachios, which are priced very differently, and then return the bag of peanuts to the pistachios's shelf. Presto, get a bag of pistachios for peanuts. :)
I can picture Indiana Jones now...
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
57 months ago
I'm not so sure how well this will work. As someone who worked in retail, customers would often pick up items and put them back in the wrong place. I wonder if the technology will be able to pick up on that.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
earthTOmitchel Avatar
57 months ago
And there is a special place in hell for people that leave frozen food items on a shelf for canned soup.
I can see the exhibit going up in The Bad Place museum right now.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
57 months ago
I prefer my local grocery store here in the midwest, which is called Hy-Vee. We order our groceries from their site and the next day they arrive during the scheduled window. Someone brings them right to our door. As long as you spend at least $100, delivery is free. Otherwise it's $5. If they end up being out of an item in-store, they will often upgrade you to a nicer item (name brand or larger size) for free. When we first started doing it, the clerks that were collecting groceries were picking out fruits and veggies that were sometimes of lower quality that looked pretty bad. They've gotten a lot better over time, and the few times where we lodged a complaint we were sent an apology letter from the store manager and a $10 gift card. They seem like they really want to get it right and they've been getting better over time. They've even been listening to user feedback and the site is becoming easier to use. I like that our local company is seeing the threat from Amazon and being proactive about it. And that's coming from someone who loves to use Amazon. Competition is always good.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
apple music

Apple Increases Apple Music Subscription Price for Students in Several Countries

Sunday May 22, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Apple has silently increased the price of its Apple Music subscription for college students in several countries, with the company emailing students informing them their subscription would be slightly increasing in price moving forward. The price change is not widespread and, based on MacRumors' findings, will impact Apple Music student subscribers in but not limited to Australia, the...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...