According to a report by Reuters, the new technology is being designed to replace traditional cashier and checkout systems for retail grocery stores. Shoppers will instead track their purchases by simply scanning items added to their baskets. Microsoft plans to distribute this technology to retailers around the world, with an initial collaboration with Walmart (WMT) being reported.
The design of Microsoft’s new automated system is similar to that of Amazon Go, which was initially made public as an independent retail store in Seattle this January and will be introduced to Chicago and San Francisco later this year. With Amazon Go, sensors and cameras work to identify what is being removed from the shelves to verify item purchases, automatically adding the items to the customers’ Amazon bills on file.
The Reuters report indicates that the development of Microsoft’s automated system is currently led by the company’s business AI team. This group, which consists of 10 to 15 people, has worked on a number of retail store technologies and already presented to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, according to the report.
Microsoft is currently in catch-up mode, as Amazon collected data for nearly 14 months before opening the doors to its first Seattle store. Currently, Microsoft is utilizing an element of its automated checkout system in their Retail Experience Center at their Redmond office.
Although Amazon has enjoyed a significant head start in developing its automated retail technology, it now looks like it will face major competition as Microsoft enters the space.