The future is here, and there are no more humans!
Okay, okay, there are still humans, but there are no cashiers. What’s that, you say? Amazon, that mighty behemoth of online retailing, has opened their first cashier-free store. The store is called Amazon Go, it’s in Seattle, and what it claims to do is as creepily impressive as whatever futuristic whimsy is floating through your noggin right now.
Amazon Go has actually been operating exclusively for Amazon employees for quite some time already. Many of the products are from Whole Foods, a company which Amazon now owns.
This goes far beyond the self-checkout aisle of your local grocery store. According to NPR, the entire 1,800-square-foot store is monitored by hundreds of cameras. Shoppers simply take items off of shelves, place them in whichever bag they might be carrying, and walk out of the store. Items removed from shelves are automatically charged to the shopper’s Amazon account when they leave through a series of special gates. If a shopper puts an item back before leaving, it is automatically removed from their virtual basket.
As Amazon describes it:
“With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)”
According to Amazon, they built the store to simply test the limits of what was possible:
“We asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?”
Well, now that they’ve successfully pushed those boundaries, it’s easy to start wondering how long it will be before the country’s 3.5 million cashiers are out of work. Amazon says it has no plans of implementing the technology in its Whole Foods stores or anywhere else, so for the time being, it remains a technological curiosity rather than a direct threat to millions of jobs.
And hey… were you pondering how easy it might be to steal from a store with no one at the helm? So were we! And so was a reporter from the New York Times. He gave it his best shot — and failed.
Do you think cashier-less stores are cool or terrifying? Tell us @britandco.
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty)
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