While Amazon continues to test out its cashier and checkout-less Go stores, Reuters reports that Microsoft is working on similar technology. Besides a number of partners who are working on products in the vein of Amazon Go — which allows shoppers to simply take items off the shelf, put them in their cart and leave with a bill automatically tabulated based on computer vision watching what they buy — it has an internal team that has tried out using cameras attached to shopping carts and mobile apps. The report calls out a small team within the company’s Business AI group dedicated to retail tech, and said CEO Satya Nadella recommended a device that could live on-site to manage cameras without transferring data to the cloud.
Microsoft isn’t new to the space and in 2017 it showed off a slew of retail-focused products at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show event that included a version of the Skip mobile app that’s in testing in grocery stores. With Skip, shoppers scan each item as they shop using the app, then check out on their phone when they’ve finished. Microsoft is a partner with the startup, and the app uses Azure on its backend. With Amazon Go stores opening soon in Chicago and San Francisco, we’ll probably see more competition in the race to replace the checkout line.