Amazon this morning unveiled its first convenience store, a high-tech retail location called “Amazon Go,” currently in a private beta testing in Seattle and scheduled to open to the public early next year. The big selling point: no check-out lines.
The company isn’t offering media previews or answering questions about precisely how it works. However, Amazon has posted an online video and FAQ, and the company actually tipped its hand on its approach in patent filings first unearthed by tech news site Recode last year.
Those patent filings describe a system that uses technology including RFID to detect when a shopper takes an item from the shelf, and then syncs the data to a handheld device.
That means the system is logging the items as the shopper goes along, which eliminates the need to go through a traditional check-out line. When customers exit the store through a “transition area,” the system senses that they’re leaving, adds up the items and charges their Amazon account.