Apple customers may be familiar with the option of walking into an Apple retail store, purchasing a product with the Apple Store app, and walking out without checking out or even speaking to a single employee, and now Amazon seeks to one-up that experience with a new concept called Amazon Go.
Amazon Go provides a checkout-free shopping experience that, to the naked eye, looks exactly like shoplifting. After scanning a smartphone upon entering a store, the app automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.
Amazon Go says the app utilizes computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning, allowing customers to simply take what they want and go with no checkouts or lines required. Shortly after, Amazon will charge a customer’s Amazon account and send a receipt, meaning that, unlike the Apple Store app, shoppers do not even need to be in the store during the actual payment process.
Amazon did not provide any further details, so beyond that it remains unclear exactly how the process works.
For now, Amazon Go is limited to Amazon employees in the company’s beta program, while only one Amazon Go food store in the company’s hometown of Seattle—at 2131 7th Ave—currently supports the app. Amazon Go will open to the public in early 2017, possibly signaling the app’s expansion to other stores.
All customers need is an Amazon account, a supported smartphone, and the free Amazon Go app. Amazon informed MacRumors the app will likely support iPhone, and presumably Android-based smartphones as well.