The Amazon Go checkout-free grocery store opens to the public January 22

Amazon Go
“Grab and go” is the premise of Amazon’s new vision for grocery convenience stores. You walk in, pick up a few items, and walk out — all without standing in a checkout line or swiping your debit card.

After a year of employee-only testing, the Amazon Go flagship store in Seattle will finally open to the public on Monday, January 22. Implementing the concept proved more difficult than Amazon had initially realized, and it ran into a few setbacks along the way.

“This technology didn’t exist,” Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, said in an interview with Reuters. “It was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”

The computer tracker for the store had some difficulty identifying people with similar body types. Items being moved from one shelf to another also caused confusion. The store even survived a Pickachu invasion at one point during testing.

Touring the store before its grand opening, Dilip Kumar of Amazon insisted to GeekWire that the technology wasn’t the problem, it was the sheer volume of customers. “Not at all. We’ve been operational from day one, and it has performed flawlessly,” he said.

“We thought we had to open to the public to get that traffic. But we had a significant amount — well beyond our expectations — of demand from just the Amazon population itself, which allowed us to learn everything that we needed,” he added.

After they check in by scanning their QR code when they enter, the store tracks customers with dozens of sensors suspended from the ceiling. Puerini explained to the Seattle Times that the technology was similar to that used in self-driving cars, with a combination of video feeds with image analysis and laser arrays to identify people and items in the store. The customer’s Amazon account is automatically charged when they leave the store.

The prices seemed to be in line with other similar brick-and-mortar convenience stores, with a whole section devoted to Whole Foods products. Although Amazon Go was unveiled before the $13.7 billion acquisition of the upscale grocery retailer last summer, speculation has been rampant that the Amazon Go model is one they want to replicate in larger stores.

Amazon has been evasive about the future of Amazon Go. “We’d love to open more,” Puerini said, but stopped short of announcing any specific plans. Rather than a traditional grocery store, the emphasis is on office workers in an urban environment. Such a clientele would “cater to what the store does well,” Puerini said. “People pressed for time and hungry.”


Ford teams up with Walmart to study consumer response to autonomous delivery

Last week it was Ford and VW, and this week Ford and Walmart are signaling a desire to work together on autonomous vehicles solutions. Ford and the giant retailer will study consumer reactions to self-driving delivery vehicles.

Converting files from MKV to MP4 is quick and easy. Just follow these steps

MKV files have their place, but if you would rather convert your videos from MKV to MP4, there are two methods we consider the best and most efficient for getting it done. In this guide, we'll walk you through them step by step.

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Emerging Tech

Students who designed transforming smart home will compete in Solar Decathalon

Modular smart homes are all the rage, and now some students from Virginia Tech are putting their money on their FutureHAUS, a modular, solar-powered, transforming smart home they're taking to the Solar Decathlon in Dubai.
Emerging Tech

Hotter than the sun: Chinese fusion reactor claims breakthrough

China’s “artificial sun” has reached a temperature of 180 million ºF with a heating power of 10 megawatts -- six times hotter than the center of the sun. The achievement could mark progress towards fusion as a clean energy source.
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Emerging Tech

Warm up or cool down with the press of a button on the wrist-worn Embr

We review the Embr Wave, a personal heating and cooling wearable designed by a team of MIT engineers that’s now on Kickstarter. Our thoughts? It’s a little bit addictive.
Emerging Tech

Hope it doesn’t melt! Rocket to ISS carries vital supplies — including ice cream

A rocket has launched over Virginia's eastern shore, carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the spacecraft are supplies for the ISS itself and the crew onboard, such as scientific equipment and food.
Emerging Tech

‘Super-Earth’ discovered orbiting nearby star

Astronomers have discovered a large planet circling a sun nearby to Earth called Barnard's Star. The potential new planet is thought to be cold and icy and has a size of around 3.2 times the Earth.
Emerging Tech

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully tests its asteroid-sampling arm

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, launched in September 2016, is closing in on its target of the Bennu asteroid. The craft has now unfurled its robotic arm, called the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), and tested it successfully.
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!