On January 22nd, the Amazon Go grocery store opened in downtown Seattle, as a crowd of people lined up to be among the first to experience the new retail store. As GeekWire reports, Amazon Go "redefines the concept of 'grab and go' - letting customers take items off the shelf and walk out without going through a traditional checkout line or register."
In a visit to Amazon Go prior to its public opening, New York Times writer Nick Wingfield likened walking into the store to entering a subway station, with a "row of gates" to guard the entrance. Rather than use shopping carts or baskets, customers drop items right into their own bag, thanks to hundreds of cameras positioned throughout the store that track inventory. As Wingfield writes, Amazon hasn't revealed much about the workings of the technology, "other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software.
When questioned about whether it jeopardizes employment opportunities for cashiers, Amazon says the "technology simply changes the role of employees," as the store requires workers to restock shelves, help customers find items and troubleshoot technical difficulties, prepare ready-to-eat meals, and check I.D's in the beer and wine section.
The future of the technology is unclear as of yet, as Amazon has denied suggestoins that they may implement it in the brick and mortar Whole Foods locations they acquired in 2017. Some say they may sell it to other retailers, but only time will tell. For now, you can visit the Seattle Amazon Go location at 2131 7th Avenue in Seattle, open Monday through Friday from 7am to 9pm.
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