According to Reuters, the tech giant is developing systems that can track what shoppers add to their carts. This is seen as a response to Amazon’s Amazon Go automated grocery store effort, which opened its first store to the public in Seattle in January, with new openings planned soon in Chicago and San Francisco.
When shopping at Amazon Go, customers scan their smartphones at a turnstile to enter. Cameras and sensors identify what shoppers remove from the shelves, and customers are automatically billed when they leave the store.
“This is the future of checking out for convenience and grocery stores,” says Gene Munster, head of research at venture capital firm Loup Ventures in Minneapolis, which estimates the U.S. market for automated checkout is worth $50 billion.
Microsoft, says Reuters, has already shown examples of its own technology to retailers from around the world. In addition, it has reportedly discussed a potential collaboration with retail giant Walmart.
The company’s effort to date, says Reuters, has largely fallen under its Business AI group. A team of 10 to 15 people has worked on a variety of retail store technologies, some of which have reportedly been presented to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Reported details of the effort include discussion of an “intelligent edge” device that could manage connected devices such as cameras on site with minimum data transfers to the cloud. In addition, the team has reportedly worked on attaching cameras to shopping carts to track customers’ items, as well as studied ways in which smartphones could play a role in the shopping experience.
Microsoft has not commented on these reports.
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