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Amazon Go: The Future Of Grocery Shopping?

Amazon is reinventing the process of grocery shopping with a twist of convenience. Like any other new technology, Amazon Go was received with mixed reviews.

WHAT IS AMAZON GO?

The dreaded activity of grocery shopping has recently received an upgrade. Amazon Go is redefining the meaning of “convenience” for both consumers and companies alike. In a world of self-driving cars and mail-delivery drones, the idea of a smart grocery store doesn’t seem so ludicrous. For those who dread the awkward small-talk and boring long lines, Amazon’s new grocery shopping model is a perfect replacement. In comparison to self checkout machines that already exist in most supermarkets, Amazon Go has eliminated the need for any sort of processing or wait time.

In order to enter the store, customers must scan their smartphone with the Amazon Go app at a turnstile. Instead of grabbing a shopping cart, customers can directly use grocery bags to put their items in. When an item is grabbed off the shelf, it is added into the customer’s online shopping cart; if they return it, the item is removed from the cart. After choosing their groceries, customers can simply walk out of the store and the items will be automatically charged to their online banking accounts.

The secret behind this technology lies in the numerous small cameras that are attached to the ceiling of the store. Through the use of sophisticated computer vision, this technology is able track which and how many items are being pulled off shelves. This seemingly simple idea requires a huge amount of data processing. Although Amazon has not released enough information regarding this technology, they denied using facial recognition technology to track customers.


Amazon Go App
The Amazon Go app with the scannable code that customers use to enter the store.


CONCERNS

Many people have started to voice their worries regarding what this technology will do for jobs. As automation gets more and more popular, people continue to worry about whether they will be replaced by machines. Many critics have expressed that the 3.5 million cashiering jobs in 2016 will be significantly affected by technology like that of Amazon Go. In response, Amazon has expressed that automation will actually create more jobs. For example, a statement from Amazon said that jobs like "Working in the kitchen and the store, prepping ingredients, making breakfast, lunch and dinner items, greeting customers at the door, stocking shelves and helping customers,(ps mag)" will effectively employ human associates. Rather than fearing automation, Amazon believes that the efficiency that comes with automation is incredibly valuable and appreciable, especially for consumers.


On the consumer level, people have expressed their concerns regarding the impact that customers will face as this technology emerges to the market. For example, people worry about the fact that Amazon makes a great deal of profit from selling data storage and data processing in the cloud. This means that Amazon is able to sell the data they receive about consumers and their shopping habits. To a marketer, this effectively works in their favor but for a consumer wallets, not so much. By analyzing consumer preferences, Amazon and its affiliates work will soon be able to subconsciously manipulate customers to maximize profits and thereby influence a consumer’s experience. Furthermore, without the physical correlation between money and the goods people buy, it will be harder to keep track of the amount of money they spend, and likewise, much harder to control spending. Another concern is the protection of the privacy for consumers. For one, what would happen if hackers were able to hack into one of the cameras in the store? In order to smother the doubts of the public, Amazon will need to assure consumers that their privacy will not be violated and their information will not be misused.


FUTURE OF AMAZON GO

Despite all the skeptics and the critics, this technology is inarguably fascinating. This technology brings up the question, “Where else can this be used?”. Is it going to be used in Amazon’s new acquisition of Whole Foods? Or will it someday be used in public libraries? As ever in the world of technology, the possibilities are endless.


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Ananya Bharath

Ananya Bharath is a junior at Cupertino High School. She likes to research the latest tech breakthroughs, and is interested in pursuing a career in materials science and engineering.