Why cashierless is the future of retail

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Why cashierless is the future of retail

By Louisa Hallett - 08/21/2018
A cashierless convenience store has opened in San Francisco, and it does not belong to Amazon.

As the accuracy of computer vision has improved in the past few years, Amazon began turning over checkout to cameras and artificial intelligence. Now, other startups are starting to follow the Amazonian path.

According to Fast Company, a Bay Area startup, Zippin, has launched a small public demo in San Francisco that will grow into a full-sized artificial intelligence-driven convenience store in the coming months. The company says while it can keep track of a shopper using generic details like body shape and clothing, it does not use facial recognition, according to Fast Company.

How does the system know whom to charge for what? According to Fast Company, shoppers check-in through Zippin’s app displaying a QR code on the phone screen for a scanner at the entrance. From there, the overhead cameras follow the shopper, as they pick up items (as well as when they put items back). Seeing that person finally walk out the door, Zippin’s system tallies what they picked up and charges their online account.

Zippin is far from the only cashierless competitor, though. Bay Area neighbors such as AiFi, Aipoly, and Standard Cognition and Israel’s Trigo Vision are all developing similar systems, according to Fast Company. They each use arrays of inexpensive cameras positioned overhead to track people and the products they pick up. The camera feeds are analyzed by algorithms trained through machine learning to recognize the appearance of each product the store carries.

According to Fast Company, Zippin’s store is a prototype, meant to showcase the technology for potential clients and investors, not to turn a profit. Zippin is ultimately in the business of selling tech to other people’s stores. The company has so far attracted $3 million in seed investment from Maven Ventures, Core Ventures Group, Pear Ventures, Expansion VC and Montage Ventures.

To read the Fast Company article, click here.