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AI Tech Makes Its Way Into Shopping

Natasha Singh | May 14, 2019

The future has arrived! But you already knew that.

Artificial intelligence technology has now made its way into our stores and shopping centers. It was only two years ago that Amazon opened its first automated convenience store, Amazon Go. With 10 locations today (all out on the West coast…we get it, you have great weather), Amazon has pioneered what will surely become the norm. Step aside automated check-out, cashierless check-out is taking the cake.


At these stores, customers need a smart phone with the Amazon Go app downloaded in order to enter. Scanning the QR code on the app upon arrival logs you in to your Amazon account within the store. Hundreds of cameras on the ceiling monitor the movements of people and items, automatically calculating who takes what and then charges the chosen items to the individual’s account. No need to engage with anyone. The complete lack of social interaction is definitely not what our parents’ generation would encourage – but leave us alone, we’re shopping with robots!

Last week, Wal-Mart unveiled their version of in-store AI, which also involves a multitude of cameras monitored by artificial intelligence, but here it’s solely to keep the shelves stocked. Employees get alerts when an item is missing and needs to be replenished. Compared to the prior leaps and strides that Amazon has made, this seems like a bit of a weak upgrade, but it is rumored that these high-tech cameras will eventually be used for more than just keeping the shelves full.


In the past, Wal-Mart tried out a facial recognition AI system that scanned the faces of customers and alerted security of suspected shoplifters. “The system is smart enough to notify a loss prevention associate on their iPhone within seven seconds,” said Joe Rosenkrantz, CEO of FaceFirst. Wal-Mart ultimately discontinued the program since the cost was greater than the loss-prevention it provided.

The face-scanning biometrics are something we’ve become accustomed to, mainly due to social media. There’s rarely a need to manually tag a photo any longer – Facebook knows your face and does the work for you, all you have to do is confirm. Sure, the robots get it wrong sometimes (no, that’s me, not my ex, how could you!) but most of the time, we have to admit, it’s eerily spot on.

From mobile apps getting you into cashierless stores to AI cameras sending mobile alerts to restock the chips in aisle 5, the future of technology is rooted in our mobile devices. Here at Blue Label Labs, we like to keep a close eye on what’s on the horizon as we take part in the mobile app development revolution that continues to gain steam. The future is here and it’s in our pockets.

Natasha Singh
+ posts

Senior iOS Developer at Blue Label Labs

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