Inside Amazon’s surveillance-powered no-checkout convenience store

Mainly the system is made up of dozens and dozens of camera units mounted to the ceiling, covering and recovering every square inch of the store from multiple angles.

The images captured from these cameras are sent to a central processing unit (for lack of a better term, not knowing exactly what it is), which does the real work of quickly and accurately identifying different people in the store and objects being picked up or held.

Amazon perhaps sensed early on that this would earn them rebuke from privacy-conscious shoppers, though the idea of those people coming to this store strikes me as unlikely.

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After nearly a year’s delay, Amazon Go is finally opening to the public on Monday morning.

Amazon’s first automated grocery store promises « no lines, no checkouts, no registers » — and it could be a game-changer for the grocery and retail industry.

The single 1,800 square foot located in the middle of Amazon’s Seattle campus was first unveiled in late 2016, and was supposed to open to the public in early 2017, according to the website.

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Reuters

Image caption

Customers enter the store by scanning the Amazon Go app on their smartphone

In a move that could revolutionise the way we buy groceries, Amazon opens its first supermarket without checkouts – human or self-service – to shoppers on Monday.Amazon Go, in Seattle, has been tested by staff for the past year.It uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer and track what items they select, eliminating the need for billing.Purchases are billed to customers’ credit cards when they leave the store.Before entering, shoppers must scan the Amazon Go smartphone app.

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Reuters

Gianna Puerini, head of Amazon Go, said the store had operated well during the test phase: « This technology didn’t exist – it was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.

« Amazon has not said if it will be opening more Go stores, which are separate from the Whole Foods chain that it bought last year for $13.7bn (Ł10.7bn).

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The first Amazon Go grocery and convenience store will open to the public Monday in Seattle — letting any person with an Amazon account, the Amazon Go app and a willingness to give up more of their personal privacy than usual simply grab anything they want and walk out, without going through a checkout line.

The idea is to “push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning” to create an “effortless experience for customers,” said Dilip Kumar, Amazon Go vice president of technology, after taking GeekWire through the store this past week.

Apart from the kitchen staff preparing fresh food at the back, we saw only two workers in the 1,800-square-foot Amazon Go store during our visit: one at the beer and wine section to check IDs, and another just inside the entrance to greet customers.

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After a nearly 14-month trial run open only to the Seattle company’s employees, Monday marks the public debut of the store — among Amazon’s boldest efforts to reshape brick-and-mortar shopping.

It was also criticized by grocery-store workers’ unions, which feared an effort to automate the work done by cashiers, the second-most-common job in the U.S.

Amazon has said the goal isn’t to make retail employees redundant, but to offer convenience you can’t get from a sometimes-crowded deli or corner store.

A visit last week to the store, occupying a corner of the ground floor of Amazon’s Day One skyscraper at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Blanchard Street, offered a demonstration of the concept shortly before the lunchtime rush of Amazon employees.

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