Microsoft is reportedly exploring ways to leverage its AI tech to automate checkout at retail stores. According to a report from Reuters, Microsoft's system will let retailers track what people put in their carts, and the company is already in talks with retailers, including Walmart, about using its tech.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is developing systems that track what shoppers add to their carts, the people say. Microsoft has shown sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart Inc about a potential collaboration, three of the people said.
The report comes as retail giant Amazon is already up and running with similar tech at its Amazon Go store in Seattle. For Amazon Go, the company relies on a combination of AI technologies to eliminate the need for cashiers and checkout lines. Instead, Amazon is able to track what shoppers pick up and automatically bill their credit cards when leaving the store.
With pressure from Amazon mounting on traditional retailers, a partnership with Microsoft could make sense, provided it's not too costly a venture.
If it pans out, this move would be another addition to an area in which Microsoft is increasingly focused: the intelligent edge. The "edge" in intelligent edge refers to Internet of Things (IoT) devices and consumer electronics that are close to where they need to be, but still maintain connections to each other and the cloud. Those include everything from your PC to toys, drones, and lightbulbs. The intelligence comes from these devices' ability to use AI to sense what's going on around them and act based on what's happening.
It's still a new concept to many, but Microsoft recently released a handy animated explanation that helps lay it out in simplified way.