Tech

Amazon is launching checkout-free supermarkets where you simply walk out

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Emily Badiozzaman
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Imagine if you could walk into Amazon.

Well, the online retail giant is making your dreams come true and it’s the end of supermarkets as you know them.

They’ve set up a real-life grocery shop where you can just walk in, pick up what you want and leave.

The store features ready-to-eat meals and snacks prepared by on-site chefs or local bakeries. There are also essentials such as bread and milk, as well as high-end cheese and chocolate. Grab your grub and go, no queues, no cashiers.

Amazon Go, as it’s called, uses technologies called “Just Walk Out” (fitting) which consists of computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion, much like you’d find in self-driving cars. Sensor fusion brings together data from different sensors to increase the reliability and accuracy of the results. 

Sign in via the Amazon app on your way in the door by pressing your phone against a sensor. As you take things of the shelf, sensors send the data to your phone via radio-frequency identification and electromagnetic fields, and places the item in a virtual cart.

The system could also use your past purchase history to help identify an item when it’s picked up. For instance, if you buy ketchup every week but never mustard, the software will judge by your past buying behaviour that you have picked up ketchup from the bottled sauces section.

Amazon says there will be well-known brands as well as “special finds we’re excited to introduce to customers.” That includes an “Amazon Meal Kit,” which contains ingredients needed to make a meal for two in 30 minutes.

On your way out you’ll pass through a ‘transition’ area and will be automatically charged for what you’ve picked up through your Amazon account.

According to Amazon, they’ve been working on the project for four years, with the aim of transforming high street shopping as we know it – sans checkout. Amazon Go is just one of a number of things Amazon has released that aims to shake things up, such as the Amazon Echo and it’s PA Alexa, and Amazon Dash button (which lets you order stuff to your house by just pressing one button).

They also opened the Amazon Books store in Seattle last year where all physical books were sold at Amazon.com's prices - often significantly less than the publisher-set list prices. The idea worked well and bookshops are set to open in San Diego, New York, Portland and Chicago following the Seattle store success.

The shop is currently only open to Amazon employees in Seattle (where Amazon’s HQ is, which is why the city keeps getting all the good stuff) while it’s in Beta, but should open to the public early next year. If all goes well, they’re rumoured to be planning on opening 2,000 stores across America.

Amazon started delivering its Fresh service in London earlier this year, so here’s hoping we won’t be too far behind the US and that no one sneaks anything into your bag while you’re not looking.

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Emily Badiozzaman

Emily is a freelance writer for Shortlist.com. She covers breaking news, entertainment, style and lifestyle for the site. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found eating and drinking or thinking about food and drinking. Follow Emily on Twitter: @ebadiozzaman 

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