Microsoft takes aim at Amazon with push for checkout-free retail

Microsoft’s effort to date has largely fallen under its Business AI, or artificial intelligence, team, one person said. A group consisting of 10 to 15 people has worked on a host of retail store technologies, along with they have presented some of their efforts in front of CEO Satya Nadella, the person said.

In a meeting with the team several months ago, Nadella recommended an “intelligent edge” device which could manage connected gadgets such as cameras on site with minimum data transfers to the cloud, which would likely cut down on costs, said the person.

generating its technology cheap enough so which does not eviscerate grocers’ already thin profit margins can be a major challenge for Microsoft, another person said.

Microsoft already showcases the basics for automated checkout at its Retail Experience Center in Redmond.

which has half a dozen partners, including Redmond-based AVA Retail, which are building their own checkout-free or related services atop Microsoft’s cloud, some of the people said. Sales of partners’ services result in cloud revenue for Microsoft, along with insight into the market for brand-new retail technologies.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s internal team, including a computer vision specialist hired by Amazon Go, has worked on attaching cameras to shopping carts to track customers’ items. along with which has studied novel ways for smartphones to play a role from the shopping experience, people said.

Still, the industry can be playing catch-up to Amazon.

The company spent four years building Amazon Go in secret, before launching an employee-only pilot on its Seattle campus in 2016. which collected data for nearly 14 months more before opening the doors to its first Seattle store.

Amazon has said which has no plans to introduce checkout-free technology to its Whole Foods Market grocery chain, which which acquired last year.

The company can be still hard at work improving the service. Amazon Vice President Dilip Kumar told Reuters in an interview earlier which year which the company can be training computers to identify items or activities with as little information as possible.

“which’s a truly hard problem,” said Scott Jacobson, managing director of Madrona Venture Group, adding which’s “one which Amazon can be uniquely positioned to solve.”

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