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Amazon kills “Just Walk Out” shopping tech—it never really worked

Amazon Go Grocery's first location in the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill.

Enlarge / Amazon Go Grocery’s first location in the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Amazon is giving up on the cashier-less “Just Walk Out” technology at its “Amazon Go” convenience stores. The Information reports that new stores will be built without computer-vision-powered surveillance technology, and “the majority” of existing stores will have the tech removed. In the early days, Amazon’s ambitions included selling Just Walk Out to other brick-and-mortar stores. The problem was that the technology never really worked.

As it says on the tin, Just Walk Out was supposed to let customers grab what they wanted from a store and just leave, skipping any kind of checkout process. Amazon wanted to track what customers took with them purely via AI-powered video surveillance; the system just took a phone scan at the door, and shoppers would be billed later via their Amazon accounts.

When the technology was announced in 2016, Amazon’s sales pitch asked, “What if we could weave the most advanced machine learning, computer vision, and AI into the very fabric of a store so you never had to wait in line?” The store was filled with 100-plus cameras and rigid item locations, all designed to try to make AI-powered computer vision checkout possible.

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