Around the world, people are experiencing social distancing, stay in place orders, and even total lockdowns. Coronavirus has swept around the globe enforcing a new normal. Going to the grocery store is something that many of us are still allowed to do, however, grabbing a cart that could be infected or ensuring you are 6ft apart is something that is now in the back of all of our minds. As a result, many consumers are turning to grocery delivery services such as Instacart or Amazon Fresh – but what about Amazon Go?
Amazon Go stores are completely touchless stores, enabling consumers to enter via a barcode scan and exiting the store without ever having to “check out” or wait in a line. These Amazon Go stores are popping up around the United States – Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and New York. Could this kind of shopping experience be our new normal? Never having to interact or come close to another person while out grocery shopping. This question led me to the patented technology behind these futuristic stores.
No Check-Out Necessary
Amazon Go stores are what they like to call “Grab and Go” – which would be considered stealing, right? Not exactly, Amazon uses a combination of artificial intelligence, computer vision, and smart sensors to gather data on what a consumer is taking in order to appropriately charge the individual.
Taking a look at the ktMINE IP Platform to see what Amazon’s IP Portfolio consisted of, I came across the following patent filed by Amazon back in 2015. The patent details a retail shopping experience, allowing Amazon customers to grab items and leave without stopping at a register. In this patent titled “Transitioning items from a materials handling facility” it describes a grocery store leveraging cameras, sensors and/or RFID readers to identify shoppers and their items. The patent also mentions the use of facial recognition and user information – which could include images of the user, details about the user such as height and weight, user biometrics, and even user purchase history.
Diving a bit deeper into Amazon’s IP portfolio, you will find that they patented hand-recognition technology that is rumored to be soon implemented in Amazon Go stores as the next layer of identification. This patent filing found in the ktMINE Search Application shows Amazon is working on technology to help identify individuals by simply scanning their hands.
This particular technology would analyze characteristics such as wrinkles, creases, veins, bones, and soft tissue. After the analysis takes place, the image is then uploaded to an internal database to identify who is shopping in the store. This kind of technology would not only identify who is in the store but also allow customers to pay by swiping their hand under a scanner, rather than using a card.
Shedding light on another layer of the sophistication of Amazon Go stores is the following patent that was applied for in 2015. The patent titled “The Instrumented item stowage system with modular elements” is for shelves with integrated electronics. These shelves include weight sensors that are interconnected with Amazon’s inventory monitoring system – allowing Amazon to track what items you pick up as well as what items are running low on inventory.
The combination of these three patents paired with a handful of others that can be found in the ktMINE IP Platform makes up the Amazon Go store. This is the first look at a truly futuristic concept of grocery shopping. With the heightened concerns of COVID-19 and an unknown future, could this soon be our standard shopping experience? Only time will tell.