Microsoft is reportedly developing a technology that would provide a checkout-free experience at stores, putting it directly in competition with Amazon’s cashierless grocery store.
According to Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter, the software giant is working on a system that would be able to track what shoppers add to their shopping trolleys and baskets – much like how Amazon’s Go store uses sensors and cameras to detect what shoppers have taken from, and put back on, the shelves in real-time.
Microsoft’s internal team, which includes a computer vision specialist hired from Amazon Go, is said to have worked on attaching cameras to shopping trolleys to track the items customers pick up, as well as studying ways for smartphones to play a role in the experience.
It is also reported that Microsoft has shown sample technology to retailers around the world and is even said to be in talks with Walmart about the possibility of collaborating on the use of the technology. The aim for Microsoft is to help these retailers make up ground on Amazon before it completely takes over the grocery game with its automated stores – with two stores opening soon in Chicago and San Francisco, and more expected to pop up before the end of the year.
It’s still unclear how far off Microsoft is from developing technology that works or if its variation of the automated shopping format would be enough to provide competition for Amazon. What is clear is that the industry is lagging behind Amazon.