Amazon Deploys Cashierless Checkout Tech
On June 17th, the first Amazon Fresh store without cashiers will open its doors to the public. Instead of queueing up to scan their products, customers will be able to grab items off the shelves and head out the door without worrying about checkout. The store will also have Amazon package pickups, kiosks, and Amazon One payment systems, which withdraw money at the scan of a palm.
Most importantly, this will be the first time that Amazon has launched its “Just Walk Out” system in a full-size grocery store. ‘Do customers like standing in lines?’ asked Amazon Vice President Dilip Kumar. ‘This fundamentally tackles a problem of how you get convenience in physical locations, especially when people are hard-pressed for time’.
How Do Customers Pay?
When you walk into the store, you can scan a QR code from your phone’s home screen, a credit or debit card linked to your Amazon account, or Amazon One. As you stroll through the aisles and select goods from the shelves, weight sensors and vision cameras will track what you take. Finally, once you’re finished, Amazon will bill your account sans cashier.
Does It Have Any Competitors?
Startups like Standard Cognition, Grabango, and Trigo have received venture capital investments to pilot similar cashierless technology, but they can’t match the sheer scale of Amazon. Instead, their pitch to retail stores is that they won’t try to outcompete them in the marketplace. For the most part, they pose no threat.
How Did Bezos Get Here?
- 1994: Invests US$10,000 of his own money
- 1997: Takes Amazon public
- 1998: Expands into music
- 1999: Patents “1-Click” checkout system
- 2005: Launches Amazon Prime
- 2012: Acquires robotics company Kiva Systems
- 2017: Acquires Whole Foods
- 2020: Amasses massive profits during the pandemic
Over the past twelve months, Amazon Prime has grown from 50 million to 200 million subscribers. At this point, the company can launch whatever its heart desires.
Where Does Amazon Go From Here?
Instead of keeping its cashierless technology to itself, Amazon intends to sell it to other retailers. An Amazon subsidiary, Whole Foods may also integrate it into its checkout lines. At the Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports, several CIBO Express stores will install cashierless systems. And the company’s plans extend far beyond the United States. In South Korea, Amazon partnered with Hyundai to launch the world’s first cashierless department store; in India, Bezos announced that he aims to remake the nation’s retail economy.
But Amazon will soon pass hands. On July 5th, 2021—27 years after Amazon was first incorporated—Andy Jassy will take over as CEO and Bezos will move on to other projects. Therefore, it remains to be seen what the remainder of 2021 will hold. But if the company continues on its current path, cashierless tech may soon conquer the retail market.
Vodafone: 5G could add £6.3bn to UK manufacturing by 2030
A new report from Vodafone suggests that 5G could add as much as £6.3bn to UK manufacturing by 2030.
The report – Powering Up Manufacturing, Levelling Up Britain – employed economic analysis from WPI Economics to scope 5G’s impact on the manufacturing sector nationally.
Boost for 5G adoption
Vodafone’s paper calls on government to set ambitious targets for 5G adoption in manufacturing over the coming decade, including support for industry to invest in private 5G networks and 5G testing and innovation centres with a view to harnessing the benefits of IoT and edge computing in manufacturing.
Key areas of the report
- Wirelessly connected factories with bespoke 5G mobile private networks (MPNs) can support the sharing of large quantities of data from thousands of devices simultaneously in real time, enabling better and faster decision making, facilitating machine learning and allowing processes to be adapted to maximise productivity.
- 5G allows for predictive maintenance. This means monitoring hundreds of variables, forecasting when and where repairs will be needed and avoiding expensive unplanned downtime.
- 5G-supported Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology can be used to visualise and plan designs in detail prior to the construction of physical prototypes. This will help workers to maintain and repair failed machinery and enable workers to be trained with less direct use of expensive physical machinery. 5G-supported AR and VR technology can also connect workers on a factory floor with engineers and designers located elsewhere, enabling them to access technical expertise without costly and time-consuming site visits.
Beginning the 5G journey
Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone said: “We are only beginning the 5G journey, but through our work with Ford, we know it offers huge potential for the manufacturing sector and beyond.
“To realise this potential, we need to all get behind it, from Government and Ofcom creating the right policy and regulatory environment, through to businesses embracing the power of innovation, and, of course, us as network operators creating this network of the future.”
Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said: “5G can change the way Britain builds and we’ve sparked a wave of innovation in UK manufacturing through our £200m 5G trials scheme.
“We’ve seen driverless vehicles at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, VR at BAM Nutall building sites in Scotland and Vodafone boosting laser-welding robots in Essex.
“The benefits of 5G for improving productivity, efficiency and safety in our manufacturing sector and beyond are clear, and Vodafone’s report is a ringing endorsement of how this revolutionary technology can help us build back better from the pandemic.”