Bricks-and-mortar shopping could be about to change forever. Amazon pioneered the automated convenience store with its newly-opened Go supermarket, and now computer vision company AiFi is introducing the first scalable, checkout-free system for stores outside of Amazon's sphere of influence. The technology has the potential to turn enormous retail spaces and small mom-and-pop operations alike into shopping environments of the future, allowing customers to "grab and go" without the hassle of physically checking out.
The system works in largely the same way as Amazon's, with sophisticated camera technology, AI algorithms and sensors. The difference is its scalability -- it doesn't require any major retrofitting, which makes it a feasible option for almost all stores. Plus, it offers store owners useful understanding into shopping behavior and gestures. This, according to AiFi CEO Steve Gu, makes things "easier for shoppers and [gives] more insights and real-time statistics for stores so they can better serve their customers and manage overall operations." Gu says the pilot will roll out in one large store, "orders of magnitude bigger than the Amazon Go store" at the end of this year, with more stores to follow. And then it might be time to say goodbye to checkout small talk forever.