UPDATED 22:41 EDT / JANUARY 21 2018

EMERGING TECH

Amazon Go, the company’s automated grocery store, opens its doors Monday

Amazon.com Inc.’s first checkout-free store will open its doors Monday after nearly a year of delays.

The company introduced the 1,800-square-foot store at the end of 2016, with a planned launch date of early 2017. The concept store that promises no lines and no checkout has faced nearly a year of technical delays and until now has remained in a closed beta testing for Amazon employees.

But the day has finally arrived for everyday consumers to experience the automated grocery store, at least if they live in Seattle. The store is located at 2131 7th Ave. in Amazon’s hometown.

The store makes use of what Amazon refers to as “Just Walk Out Technology,” which uses computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensors to detect when a customer picks up an item from the shelf or returns it. All items are kept track of in a virtual cart and when customers are ready to leave they just walk out of the store, no checkout required.

Amazon Go is currently being run on a limited scale in a store that will specialize in sandwiches, drinks, salads and even some ready-to-eat meals. At this stage, the company has no plans to expand the concept or roll out the technology to Whole Foods Market Inc., which the company acquired for $13.7 billion in June.

If the concept is a success, though, the company could also choose to license the technology to other convenience stores. Although it may be convenient for consumers, the technology could also be responsible for making cashier jobs redundant. More than 3.5 million Americans held cashier jobs as of May 2016, of which 900,000 were in grocery stores, according to the Department of Labor.

Amazon Go does employ a team of “associates” who prep ingredients, make ready-to-eat food, stock shelves and help customers. Although the controlled beta tests have apparently worked well, it’s not yet clear how the concept will hold up when there are dozens of people streaming through the doors on Monday.

How Amazon Go works

Download the Amazon Go app from the Play Store (it requires Android 4.1 and up), App Store (it requires iOS 9.0 or later) or the Amazon App Store. Sign into the app with your Amazon login details. The store is open between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Scan the Amazon Go app when entering the store and start shopping. The technology will keep track of all the items you pick up and put down. When you are done shopping, leave the store and Amazon will charge your account and send you a receipt.  

Image: Amazon

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