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Amazon’s new grocery store will let you pick items off shelves and walk out without paying

The company calls it Amazon Go.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Eighteen months ago, Recode spotted an Amazon patent that laid out the company’s vision for a new type of retail store with no lines and no cashiers. Today, Amazon confirmed they are working on such a project.

Called Amazon Go, the store will allow Amazon customers to shop for grocery staples, prepared meals and sandwiches, and then walk right out without stopping to pay at a cashier or kiosk. Customers need only to scan their phone using the new Amazon Go app on the way into the store, and their Amazon account will be charged for items taken.

Sources previously told Recode that such a secret project was being run by Steve Kessel, a longtime Amazonian who once led the Amazon Kindle launch and who was close with CEO Jeff Bezos. The team working on Go has been experimenting with these ideas for as long as four years.

Amazon says it is using a combination of AI, computer vision and data pulled from multiple sensors to allow customers to only be charged for the stuff they grab. It'll be interesting to see how good Amazon is at stopping theft and fraud in these new stores.

The computer vision part seems to indicate that there are cameras being used to track you in the store, which some shoppers could find off-putting. The original Amazon patent described such an environment, but a spokeswoman did not respond to a question about cameras.

The first Amazon Go location is at 2131 Seventh Avenue in Seattle, Amazon’s home town. It will open early next year.

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