Artificial Intelligence is about to find its way into all areas of modern society. Up to now, however, the focus has been on areas of application that are less common, such as medicine, research and high technology. A short time later, the world of private entertainment and mobility followed: intelligent assistants in smartphones and cars as well as in consumer electronics and the web. Now AI is also penetrating into an area that is an integral part of everyday life outside the home: daily shopping.
The Amazon company, known primarily as an online wholesaler, is launching the concept of an intelligent supermarket. The company opened its first Amazon Go Supermarket in Seattle, Washington, in January 2018. The aim here is to offer customers everyday shopping, especially of foodstuffs, in a new, simplified form: no queuing at the checkout, no scanning of barcodes, no employees. The customer enters the shop, takes goods from the shelves, inserts them and leaves the store, ready. The amount due is debited from the customer’s Amazon account, and the products withdrawn are deducted from stock in inventory accounting.
What sounds so simple, requires some intelligent technology in the background and shopping doesn’t work without any prerequisites: Customers need the (free) Amazon Go-App and log in when entering the shop by having the system scan a QR-Code from their smartphone. After that, however, the phone can be plugged in safely, because from that point and on the Artificial Intelligence of charging with its learning algorithm takes over the process. While the system continuously monitors them via camera and personal identification, customers take the goods from the shelves, which in turn act as scales. The withdrawn number of pieces of a product is credited to the customer in the virtual shopping cart; goods are deleted. When the purchase is finished, the AI registers it when the customer leaves the shop and debits his Amazon account shortly after that with the amount due.
The decisive technological progress in this respect is undoubtedly the naturalness with which the transfer of goods and money takes place. Customers do not have to scan in commodities, and the purchase is made under constant visual and sensory control of the AI, without trust in the honesty of the customers. But Amazon’s intelligent supermarket cannot do without personnel: Employees provide support for the supply of goods on the shelves, prepare ready-to-eat food and supervise the sale of alcohol to comply with legal requirements. Amazon’s statements on the question of whether the new concept is a feasibility study or the prototype of an entire chain of stores is also unclear. Generally speaking, Amazon’s advance may be seen as part of a development that is increasingly changing the way the food and retail trade functions and looks: Gradually, cash registers and staff disappear from the shops, and the supermarket becomes – according to the vision – an intelligent autonomous system.Zurück