Microsoft is reportedly working on technology that could be used to power check-out free retail stores. Reuters reports that the software giant has been talking to Walmart about using the tech, which will rival Amazon’s own Go initiative. Amazon first launched its cashier-free convenience store in the company’s hometown in Seattle last year. Shoppers can simply grab items and leave, as the store is fitted with multiple camera and sensors that use computer vision algorithms to detect what items you’re taking out of the store and charged to your account.
While Amazon Go is expanding to Chicago and San Francisco soon, Reuters reports that Microsoft has hired a computer vision specialist from Amazon Go. Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with attaching cameras to shopping carts to track items, and the company already has retail partners building automated checkouts on top of Microsoft’s cloud services.
Reuters doesn’t reveal what technology Microsoft is using for its sensors, but it’s likely related to the company’s Project Kinect for Azure. Microsoft first unveiled its fourth-generation Kinect sensor at Build last month, and it’s designed for others to use the depth sensor and Azure AI services for spatial human object recognition. Microsoft has been working on Kinect sensors for years, and they’ve been popular amongst creatives, tinkerers, and the general maker movement.
Any challenge to Amazon Go will be key for Microsoft. Both Amazon and Microsoft are fighting over the future of cloud computing, and Microsoft is a close second to Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) offering. Microsoft’s cloud growth has boosted the company’s revenue, and CEO Satya Nadella has made it clear that cloud and AI are essential parts to every part of Microsoft.