Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology is extremely interesting: just grab what you want and walk out the door, no checkout or payment required, and extremely complicated. Amazon’s system uses computer vision, which requires a complex system of cameras and sensors to make it all work.
The system is quite simple: each item, in this case mainly clothing, receives an RFID tag that looks like a normal clothing tag. Customers enter the store, choose what they want and go through an “exit door” that scans the labels and adds up the bill. Then they scan their credit card or swipe their palm over an Amazon One scanner and leave.
It may not be as pleasant to go through a scanner before leaving as it is to simply leave the building, but Amazon’s argument here is that an RFID system will be much easier for businesses to implement. Instead of wiring their buildings with an expensive camera system, they can simply change their labels, add some doors, and that’s it. Amazon says its Just Walk Out tests have shown huge increases in customer traffic thanks to shorter lines and many more transactions because the process is so simple.
Amazon itself may be retiring its physical retail stores, but it’s clearly still investing in real-world shopping logistics problems. (Amazon says there are more than 150 stores total with Just Walk Out technology enabled.) It’s a potentially big business and, perhaps even more attractive, a huge source of customer data. If Amazon can take a slap from everyone in every store in the world, the most optimized online store on the internet might know the same about shopping offline.