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Amazon Go Brings Machine Learning to Grocery Shopping

Amazon Go Brings Machine Learning to Grocery Shopping

by Brittany Leonard | 23 Jan 2018

Amazon, the revolutionary giant who tends to always impress the public with its latest innovations, announced the public opening of its newest creation, Amazon Go.

(Source: Amazon)

Amazon Go is a brick and mortar convenience store with one caveat: it’s cashier-free using machine learning technology. Simply put: a customer walks in, scans a QR code from the AmazonGo app, glass doors open in a turnstile, customers are then free to put any items they would like to purchase in their personal bags and walk out the store. Amazon then issues an electronic receipt to the app as they exit the store. 

Amazon Go first opened to employees last December 2016 for beta testing, and it did so well, there was no need to open to the public. A few kinks had to be worked out such as correct identification and item misplacement, but it seems those issues have been sorted out for now. 


Of course, Amazon will not say exactly how the machine learning technology works. Currently, we know, there are hundreds of infrared cameras to correctly identify the customer shopping, while weight sensors and visual dot codes assist in identifying when an item has been taken off or placed back on the shelf by that customer. In beta testing, Amazon dressed three employees in the same yellow Pikachu costume, and the technology was able to correctly identify each individual and charge them accurately. The system also caught a journalist when he tried to trick the system, with Amazon’s permission of course, by covering a pack of soda with his bag before taking it off the shelf. If the technology does charge a customer for something they did not take, the customer simply swipes it off their electronic receipt. Time will only tell how Amazon will handle any dishonest customers. Amazon currently does have employees monitoring the alcohol selection to manually check identification. 

Food Selection

The food offerings are supposed to be healthy, convenient, and appealing to the always-on-the-go millennial. In fact, most changes in the beta testing occurred in the store’s inventory selections such as clear labeling of gluten-free products and preferences for salad dressing not mixed into the fresh salads. Food offerings include pre-made boxed lunches, sandwiches, wraps, veggie chips, and other convenient options. 

The Future of Amazon Go

Amazon is not talking to the public yet about where it plans to take this technology in the future. There are speculations that this system could be implemented into various Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired last year, but Amazon instead hinted at the possibility of more locations in the future. However, there is one thing we know for sure, Amazon is a game changer when it comes to convenience, and with the allure of not having to wait in overcrowded checkout lines, not having to waste time on a price check, or standing puzzled at self-checkout, the possibilities for Amazon with this technology are endless.

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Valerie Stephen