Report: Microsoft is building checkout-less store tech to take on Amazon

Microsoft is developing technology for checkout-less stores similar to Amazon Go, and the computer giant is also in talks with Walmart about a possible partnership.

The revelation comes via a Reuters report, which said that a team of between 10 and 15 Microsoft engineers has been working on developing technology capable of tracking what shoppers put into their bags as they make their way around a store. One of the team members is reportedly a computer vision specialist hired from Amazon Go.

Amazon opened its first “grab-and-go” store in Seattle in January, with new ones expected to be opening soon in Chicago and San Francisco.

Like Amazon Go, Microsoft’s technology would track shoppers as they make their way around a store, automatically processing customer selections. When they’re done, they can walk straight out of the store without stopping by a checkout, with the payment taking place automatically online.

Multiple sources claiming to have knowledge of the matter told Reuters that Microsoft is already showing its in-store technology to retailers around the world, suggesting that it’s already well advanced.

Part of Microsoft’s setup apparently involves cameras attached to shopping carts that would monitor a shopper’s selections as they move around the store.

Amazon Go uses an array of cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence technology to track each item that a customer places in their bag. It’s so clever that it even knows when you put an item back on the shelf, should you change your mind during your shop.

Reuters’ report noted that there’s no known launch date for Microsoft’s technology, adding that there’s a chance it might not even see the light of day. Current challenges include making it not only fail-safe but also cheap enough that retailers will actually want to use it.

It’s not clear if Microsoft’s system is confined to the shopping cart or requires additional sensors around the store, but the need to make it cost effective suggests it’s working on a platform that’s less complex than Amazon’s.

Walmart Go?

Soon after Amazon embarked on its ambitious project to build a delivery drone platform, Walmart revealed its own plans for a similar system. With that in mind, it’s little surprise that the retail giant is now believed to be in talks with Microsoft as it apparently eyes the launch of its own checkout-less stores.

But if Microsoft is able to create an effective technology, it could potentially sell it to multiple retailers, enabling it to take on Amazon and transform the way we shop at brick-and-mortar stores.

Amusingly, many Amazon Go shoppers have been commenting on how the experience leaves them feeling a bit like a shoplifter. Find out how it went for Digital Trends when we visited the first-ever Amazon Go store in Seattle soon after it opened.

Smart Home

Amazon may be close to opening its first cashier-free store outside U.S.

Amazon could be on the verge of opening its first cashier-free store outside of the U.S. after a recent report claimed the company has secured retail space for a location in central London.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for February 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Emerging Tech

Chandra X-ray telescope uncovers evidence of the universe’s missing matter

Where is all of the matter in the universe? NASA's Chandra telescope has uncovered evidence of hot gas strands in the vicinity of a quasar which could explain the missing third of matter which has puzzled astronomers for years.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s space observatory will map the sky with unprecedented detail

NASA is preparing to launch a cutting-edge space observatory to create the most detailed map ever produced of the sky. Doing so will involve surveying hundreds of millions of galaxies. Here's how it plans to do it.
Smart Home

No strings attached: This levitating lamp uses science to defy gravity

Now on Kickstarter, the Levia lamp is a cool industrial-looking lamp which boasts a levitating bulb. Looking for a table light that will dazzle visitors? You've come to the right place.
Emerging Tech

The Great White Shark’s genome has been decoded, and it could help us end cancer

In a significant step for marine and genetic science, researchers have decoded the genome of the great white shark. The genetic code revealed a wealth of insight into what makes these creatures so successful from an evolutionary standpoint.
Emerging Tech

‘Guerrilla rainstorm’ warning system aims to prevent soakings, or worse

Japanese researchers have created a "guerrilla rainstorm" early-warning system aimed at preventing severe soakings, or worse. The team hopes to launch the system before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft will collect a sample from asteroid Ryugu by shooting at it

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 will soon touch down on the asteroid Ryugu, where it will collect a sample by shooting a bullet into the soil. The sample will be returned to Earth in 2020 to learn about the formation of asteroids.
Emerging Tech

Hong Kong’s vision for a smart prison is a full-blown Orwellian nightmare

Hong Kong wants to bring prisons up to date by introducing new location-tracking wristbands for inmates, and a robot arm whose job is to comb through poop on the lookout for contraband.