October 6, 2018
Amazon Go was one of the most talked about topics in the field of tech last year. The e-commerce giant managed to start up cashier-free stores that utilize sensors and cameras to detect items that are being picked up by Amazon customers. Amazon users simply need to check-in with their Amazon accounts and pick up products and leave, allowing sensors to handle billing. Microsoft is reported to be working on something similar with reports of the tech giant’s partnership with Walmart surfacing recently.
With Amazon already expanding to San Francisco and Chicago later this year, Microsoft needs to catch up to Amazon’s offerings as quickly as possible. Walmart and Microsoft are likely to utilize Microsoft’s Kinect sensors and computer vision technology to monitor items that are picked up by customers in the cashier-free stores. Payments are handled over the cloud and charged to the customers’ accounts after they leave the store.
Cashier-free stores are highly cost-effective from a business standpoint with Amazon claiming that even if users are not charged for some products, they may keep the unbilled items at no cost. The technology is accurate enough to provide correct billing information most of the time, and Amazon Go’s initial tests have proven successful. The ability to simply pick up items at convenience stores and leave is appealing to many users, and cashier-free stores could very well become common in modern cities.
Microsoft is not only competing with Amazon at sensor technology with cashier-free stores but also at cloud computing. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the current leader in the industry and Microsoft has been playing catch up for years. With the fourth-generation Kinect sensor being revealed last month, the partnership with Walmart to offer futuristic stores may pose a serious threat to Amazon.