Amazon’s cashier-less convenience store of the future is finally in the present. Over a year after it was announced and after a well-publicized delay, Amazon Go opened its doors to the public today, giving anyone in downtown Seattle access to 1,800 square feet of grocery staples including bread, milk, and cheese, as well as premade snacks and fresh meals. You just walk in, grab the items you want on the shelf, and walk out — Amazon automatically charges you for the items after you leave the store, and you get an electronic receipt for your purchases.
Before today, the futuristic grocery store was available only to Amazon employees in a beta test. But now, the early reviews have started to roll in. The consensus so far? People who have tried it have said that walking out without going through a checkout line feels strangely like shoplifting.
Except it’s shoplifting that you usually can’t get away with. Here’s how it works: Customers download a dedicated Amazon Go app and scan a QR code to go through a turnstile at the store. (This way, Amazon also knows exactly who is in its store at all times.) You need an Amazon login, but don’t need Prime — Amazon’s members-only subscription for premium services.
Then, once you’re in, a system of computer vision, AI, and a whole bunch of sensors working in tandem can detect each item you take down from the shelves, as well as whether you’ve put something back. The bill arrives once you’ve left the store, and if there are any mistakes, or you aren’t satisfied with one of your purchases, you…