Amazon isn’t the only Seattle-area tech giant that wants to change how we pay for items at the grocery store. Microsoft’s business AI team is developing automated technology that tracks what shoppers put in their cart, according to a report from Reuters, which said that the company is in talks with retailers including Walmart about implementing the software.
When contacted by GeekWire, a Microsoft spokesperson said “Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation.” The cashier-less system would be a direct competitor to Amazon Go, Amazon’s own attempt to reinvent the physical store with the same mindset that brought one-click shopping to the internet.
Amazon debuted the first Amazon Go location at its headquarters in Seattle in December 2016; it opened to the public in January of this year. The company is opening additional Amazon Go locations in Chicago and San Francisco.
At Amazon Go, shoppers check in by scanning their unique QR code while overhead cameras work with weight sensors in the shelves to precisely track which items they pick up and take with them. When they leave, they just leave. Amazon Go’s systems automatically debit their accounts for the items they take, sending the receipt to the app.
Amazon Go is part of a broader push by Amazon into physical retail, including its acquisition of Whole Foods, its Amazon Books stores, and AmazonFresh Pickup locations.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has also been thinking about building technology that improves how customers shop at a physical store. In 2009 it opened its Retail Experience Center at the company’s Redmond, Wash. headquarters.
“The Retail Experience Center features in-store displays of Microsoft consumer products and showcases powerful ways to cut costs, create efficiencies, streamline operations, and promote and sell goods — within the aisles, in the employee break room, at receiving and shipping, at checkout, across the Web, and even at home or on the go,” a press release noted.
Reuters reported that Microsoft is working with six partners that are building cashier-less related technology using the company’s Azure cloud service. The company has also hired a computer vision specialist who worked on Amazon Go.
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