Amazon is moving away from its cashier-free shopping technology

The cashless world that Amazon dreams of is disappearing: the company is returning to its technology that allows it to identify items purchased by supermarket customers before they leave the store: called “Just Walk Out”, it will no longer be available in the future will be deployed to Amazon Fresh convenience stores and will even be removed from the group’s stores where it is present in the United States, a group director announced to the media on Tuesday, April 3. The information.

This announcement will not have any significant impact on Amazon in the short term: only twenty Amazon Fresh supermarkets – out of forty – use Just Walk Out in the United States. The cashierless technology is expected to remain operational in a few such stores in Britain and in Amazon Go stores (another type of small physical store, without cashiers, launched by Amazon), according to The information. The few points of sale from other companies that had purchased the e-commerce giant’s solution – most notably sports stadium stores in the United States – should continue to use it as well.

However, the failure of this attempt at innovation is symbolic: it was pitched by Amazon as a demonstration of the capabilities of artificial intelligence, which would ultimately revolutionize retail. According to the company, it almost gives a feeling “Magic” At the customer, this technology was developed at high costs from 2012 onwards based on an initial idea by founder Jeff Bezos. It relied on numerous cameras installed on the store’s ceiling. These were intended to identify items taken from a shelf by a customer. For small items that were difficult to distinguish, a sensor scale placed on the shelf indicated that they had been removed. The cameras then had to follow the buyer through the shelves until he left.

Human intervention

But The information revealed that the Just Walk Out artificial intelligence system was flawed: it was actually partially dependent on humans. More than 1,000 people were employed by Amazon in India to look at images, classify items and assign them to customers: so 700 out of 1,000 transactions required human intervention by 2022, far from the original target of 50 per 1,000 .

Could AI just be the technological screen for an easy relocation of cashiers to India? Amazon disputes this version and acknowledges the existence of Indian workers: these would only validate one “small minority” sales and would be used to “annotate” images to improve motion and object detection algorithms, the company assured the Gizmodo site…

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