Amazon Ditches 'Just Walk Out' Checkouts at Its Grocery Stores

Amazon is phasing out its checkout-less grocery stores with “Just Walk Out” technology, first reported by The Information Tuesday. The company’s senior vice president of grocery stores says they’re moving away from Just Walk Out, which relied on cameras and sensors to track what people were leaving the store with.

Furbag,

“Just walk out” was a cool idea, but I’m not sure the way they tried to implement it would have ever been successful even if they had perfected the technology. The fact that they tried to disguise it as a fully automated system when they had a team of thousands of people overseas analyzing the footage is disturbing. I like the idea of just having the scanner in the basket much better. It’s still more convenient/efficient than a checkout line or a kiosk and it helps you keep track of your total balance.

I’ve never actually been to one of these stores. They seem pretty scarce.

dyc3,

My university just finished replacing one of the on campus convenience stores with a “just walk out” thing. The experience just felt kinda weird overall.

PiratePanPan,
@PiratePanPan@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

Joke’s on them, I was already Just Walking Out without going to the checkout 😎

hark,
@hark@lemmy.world avatar

I remember when this was going to be the future of physical retail and that it was part of the massive loss of jobs we would supposedly experience due to full automation. It reminds me of the hype surrounding AI and the overestimation of its capabilities and underestimation of its problems.

LordCrom,

All this complexity and expensive tech just to avoid paying a couple of cashier’s and bagboys. It amazes me

postmateDumbass,

But the guy with the MBA had a graph showing it pays for itself in 38 years! (46 if you add consulting fees.)

flames5123,

Damn… I go to a corner store Amazon Go almost every time I go into the office for a flavored seltzer. They have dog treats and my my dog loves going there every time.

I hope this is one of the convenience stores that it keeps open.

It was weird that last year they reversed the way you pay, making you pay/scan your code on the way out. So backwards to the “just walk out” motto. They went back on it less than 6 months later.

ExfilBravo,

If they lose even a cent doing something new its right back to the old way every time. Can’t let the share holders down I guess.

Andromxda,

Could we please stop crossposting to 7 different communities?

Stopthatgirl7,
@Stopthatgirl7@lemmy.world avatar

?? I didn’t post this anywhere else? Or even see it anywhere else?

Andromxda,
Stopthatgirl7,
@Stopthatgirl7@lemmy.world avatar

I scroll through to see if things have been posted before. If I don’t see it, I assume it hasn’t. And I use a client so I don’t see if there are cross posts because it doesn’t display them.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

You can see from the screenshot you posted that it was only posted one other time in this community. And that was by me, posting many hours after this one. So you blaming @Stopthatgirl7 is very unfair.

As for why I posted it, simple: federation problems. I looked and didn’t see it already posted, because for whatever reason, on my instance when viewing this community, it didn’t appear. Only when someone else posted it and linked to this post on their instance did I ever become aware of it. If you look at this post on my instance you’ll note only two comments show up, and that’s because they’re the comments I forced to show up by manually searching for them using a different instance’s URL. (Not sure why, but even when trying to search for it, I can’t get your post with the actual screenshot to show up on my instance, hence my reply to this comment instead.)

Andromxda,

I’m not blaming any specific person, I’m blaming whoever thought it was a good idea to cross-post this 7 times.

As for why I posted it, simple: federation problems.

Ok sure, that explains it. I should have thought about that.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Eh personally I don’t think there’s a problems with cross-posting. They’re different communities and different people might subscribe to them.

As for the federation issue, I don’t think you should have thought of that. I know I didn’t. Apparently it’s a long-lived issue with lemmy.world federation. Anyone would have assumed federation issues were resolved a while ago.

tsonfeir,
@tsonfeir@lemm.ee avatar

What is preventing someone from just walking into a random store with no Amazon account and walking out with stuff?

glitch1985,

The one I went to had a turnstile after you walk though the front door so you needed to scan the code from the app.

PiratePanPan,
@PiratePanPan@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

There was a video going around on Twitter when they first implemented this where people were just hopping the turnstile a la NYC Subway

KairuByte,
@KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

What is preventing someone from doing that at Walmart?…

EncryptKeeper,

The state constables posted at the exit usually lol

FlyingSquid,
@FlyingSquid@lemmy.world avatar

I don’t know where you live, but I’ve been in many Walmarts in the U.S. and they have private security who are never posted at the exit that I’ve ever seen. Mostly they just sit in an office and watch security cameras.

PriorityMotif,

I’ve definitely seen actual cops standing at the front of the store. They’re also there every day and park their cars up front in the fire lane.

FlyingSquid,
@FlyingSquid@lemmy.world avatar

Maybe you’ve seen it, but it’s not common in my experience.

I just traveled across four states and, because of the bad weather, we stopped at Walmarts along the way so my elderly mother could walk around and stretch her legs.

Not one cop.

PriorityMotif,

I think it’s something they do or have done around the holidays when it’s very busy. They might be hiring off duty cops and having them wear their uniform.

melpomenesclevage, (edited )

Where I live they have cops in cop cars and special ‘law enforcement partner’ parking closer than the nearest handicapped space. Its great.

Posadism looks better every day.

Verat,

That’s the thing that gets me where I live, the cops have reserved parking spots but they still choose the fire lane, I guess crossing the traffic lane to the building is a line they wont cross.

jkrtn,

I don’t know about Walmart but I heard Target will facial recognize you and deliberately wait across multiple trips until you have stolen enough to make it grand theft before taking action.

KoalaUnknown,

deleted_by_author

  • Loading...
  • KairuByte,
    @KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

    How would that be illegal?

    KoalaUnknown,

    deleted_by_author

  • Loading...
  • KairuByte,
    @KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

    This is a well known thing that Target does: www.dailydot.com/news/target-grand-larceny-psa/?a…

    NikkiDimes,

    Source: Kaitlyn, e.g. tiktok.com/@reddnea

    Not saying it’s untrue, I totally believe it could be the case, but also not exactly the most iron-clad source of information lol.

    KairuByte,
    @KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

    That’s just the most recent article I could find, you can go back over reporting on the same for at least a decade.

    NikkiDimes,

    Fair enough. I’m sure they likely are doing this, why wouldn’t they if no one’s stopped them. Even while being technically illegal in the US as another user stated, FBI or retired police involvement wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest, unfortunately.

    KairuByte,
    @KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

    I highly doubt it’s illegal for a private entity to withhold reporting a crime until they have enough evidence to be actioned on. They made a claim without providing any sort of source backing it up, and the fact that many companies do it points to it being legal, at least in most places they operate.

    NikkiDimes, (edited )

    That’s a very good point. I don’t know why I latched on to Target’s side of things being true/untrue but looked over the legal aspect completely. Strong anti-corporation bias, I imagine…

    Thanks for pointing that out. On second look, I can’t seem to find anything to back up the initial claim of their actions being illegal.

    Dud,
    @Dud@lemmy.world avatar

    Yea that’s completely wrong, that’s just called building a case and collecting evidence.

    isles,

    Is that tracking distributed across stores or do I have license to steal $9999 from each one?

    RGB3x3,

    Probably the amount stolen within the same state. But once you’re committing crimes across state lines, you’ve got bigger problems on your hands.

    And yes, they definitely share data across their whole company.

    CoggyMcFee,

    Let us know what you find out

    Neondragon25,

    I did Target security for a few months. Yes they build cases against people until it’s criminal action. It’s also not subject to one store. Rather I could just type in descriptions of people (apparent age, height, skin tone, etc) and it would search those descriptions. I could then match the person and add it to the running total. When I left I heard that some markets were rolling out an AI to track people. I can answer any questions if there’s anyone who want to know more.

    jkrtn,

    Do you know how long do they keep video for, or is it just eternity?

    remotelove,

    Not much. Employees don’t give a fuck and if they did, they would probably get fired for trying to stop a thief.

    Actually, many places where I live are scaling back self-checkout. I suspect it’s because the geniuses who tried to save a buck by getting rid of tellers didn’t realize they would lose more from theft. (It’s amazing how many people don’t give two fucks about shareholder profits, actually.)

    KairuByte,
    @KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

    Yeah that was my point. :P

    A thief is a thief, someone willing to steal from a store covered from top to bottom in cameras and sensors is going to be willing to steal from just about anywhere.

    tsonfeir,
    @tsonfeir@lemm.ee avatar

    But there are people at Walmart working. No one is in the Amazon Fresh store?

    KairuByte,
    @KairuByte@lemmy.dbzer0.com avatar

    No one at Walmart is stopping you if you try to just walk out with product. No one is getting paid enough to risk getting sued, and there’s a non-zero chance they get fired if they do more than passively trying to stop you.

    In reality, they are going to note down your info, pull up the camera feeds, and call the cops. The exact same steps a Fresh store would take.

    tsonfeir,
    @tsonfeir@lemm.ee avatar

    Missed opportunities then.

    melpomenesclevage,

    (It’s amazing how many people don’t give two fucks about shareholder profits, actually.)

    Heathens and sinners!

    Harbinger01173430,

    Yes, shareholders aren’t people so we shouldn’t really care about them at all

    13esq,

    You’re right, they’re not people, they’re fucking parasites.

    remotelove,

    Also, it’s not the common peasant shareholders that think they are trading real shares on Robinhood. It’s the institutional shareholders that are the real sacks of steaming dog shit.

    knotthatone,

    It’s a shame this isn’t working out, I was really hoping it would turn out to be a better way of doing self-checkouts.

    The little convenience store on my way to work is nice, but I guess it falls apart in a larger store situation.

    Garbanzo,

    The Amazon near me has a “Just Fuck Off” policy. They redecorated the old Toys R Us building a few years ago and then never bothered to open the store.

    venusaur,
    @venusaur@lemmy.world avatar

    It worked really smoothly for me…the one time I went cuz it was such a depressing experience. Don’t get me wrong tho. I love self checkout. Amazon store sucks.

    ripcord,
    @ripcord@lemmy.world avatar

    What made it depressing for you?

    venusaur,
    @venusaur@lemmy.world avatar

    It just feels sad in there. The colors are sad, the products are boring, the cameras all over are dystopian. Even though there were other people there, it felt isolating. Too sterile.

    ripcord,
    @ripcord@lemmy.world avatar

    Gotcha. Never seen anything on them except this story (and maybe another at some point that mentioned they were opening some), so was curious.

    venusaur,
    @venusaur@lemmy.world avatar

    For sure. It’s an interesting concept but I enjoy going to the grocery store and this didn’t feel right.

    lvxferre,
    @lvxferre@mander.xyz avatar

    That immediately reminded me the story of the Mechanical Turk. Check the link for further info - to keep it short both are ways to hide human labour behind alleged automation.

    ccunning,

    You linked to the original Mechanical Turk. Perhaps you already know this but Amazon actually runs an Mechanical Turk service:

    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Mechanical_Turk

    lvxferre,
    @lvxferre@mander.xyz avatar

    You linked to the original Mechanical Turk.

    Yup, that’s intended. The original Mechanical Turk was a con, just like Amazon’s “just walk out” service.

    Cqrd, (edited )

    The Amazon’s Mechanical Turk was never a con. It’s been known for a very long time that it’s a way to outsource human tasks on a large scale cheaply. Like, a very long time. I think I first heard about it like 12 years ago?

    Unless you mean the way it exploits poor countries for cheap labor. I wouldn’t call that a con, but it is fucked.

    FalseMyrmidon,

    He means the namesake, not the web service from the last 20 years.

    lvxferre,
    @lvxferre@mander.xyz avatar

    By “original Mechanical Turk”, I am clearly referring to the chess player inside a box. It was a con because the system was presented as an automaton, when it is simply human labour.

    And I am calling Amazon’s “just walk out” service also a con because it was touted as automatic, even if also being mostly human labour.

    I am not calling “Amazon’s Mechanical Turk” a con. It is exploitative, as you said, but it is not a con. People know that it is human labour, and Amazon does not try to hide it.

    Is this clear now?

    Cqrd,

    Yep, thanks

    ripcord,
    @ripcord@lemmy.world avatar

    Just because it was a failure doesn’t make it a con.

    Passerby6497,

    No, what makes it a con is that it was purported to be automated, but the automation was a failure and had to be done by humans almost 3/4 of the time.

    ripcord,
    @ripcord@lemmy.world avatar

    No, that makes it a failure.

    lvxferre,
    @lvxferre@mander.xyz avatar

    Just because it was a failure doesn’t make it a con.

    On its own a failure is not a con. The con is to publicly pretend that the failure is not there.

    And Amazon is clearly doing the later - read the quote from the spokesperson in the article, it boils down to “The system is automated! «Chrust us lol». The human labour there is just, for, uh… improvements!” Yeah, sure, and the 1770 machine is totally automated too, the chess player there is just the maintenance worker /s

    imaqtpie,
    @imaqtpie@sh.itjust.works avatar

    And I am calling Amazon’s “just walk out” service also a con because it was touted as automatic, even if also being mostly human labour.

    That’s not what a con is. A con is a deliberate scam. Amazon’s automated checkout simply didn’t function as effectively as intended. They presumably lost money on the venture because the automation was unreliable. Nothing about this situation was a deliberate attempt to pay over 1,000 employees to check an automated system’s work.

    The Mechanical Turk is an interesting story and I’m glad you linked it, but it’s not all that similar.

    linearchaos,
    @linearchaos@lemmy.world avatar

    The automated walk out service wasn’t a con. It was a shortsighted, honestly s***** idea, that was never able to be brought past the human oversight stage.

    Con requires intent. I’m absolutely certain they fully intended to make it a completely humanless system. They failed and drug their feet trying and now they’ve shut it down.

    If it’s a con, what’s their long game? What are they gain from having humans watch the store remotely? Is it tech just so neat that they’ll have a lot more shoppers than a regular store? Do they save so much in on-site staff that it’s cheaper to run than a conventional store? There’s no advantage here that would make it a worthwhile con. It’s a failed moonshot that they ended up manning with people to see if they could make it work that’s all.

    FlyingSquid,
    @FlyingSquid@lemmy.world avatar

    The Amazon’s Mechanical Turk was never a con.

    I wouldn’t go that far. They heavily implied that you could make a decent living doing it, not 20 cents per survey or whatever it is.

    FunkPhenomenon,

    good idea, poor implementation

    frezik,

    They couldn’t train an AI well enough to replace humans in the loop. That suggests it was a bad idea from the start. If it were possible at all with the current state of the art of AI, Amazon would be one of the companies that could do it.

    Darkassassin07,
    @Darkassassin07@lemmy.ca avatar

    According to The Information, 700 out of 1,000 Just Walk Out sales required human reviewers as of 2022. This widely missed Amazon’s internal goals of reaching less than 50 reviews per 1,000 sales.

    Lmao.

    bionicjoey,

    Goes to show the true state of the art for AI right now

    iAmTheTot,
    iAmTheTot avatar

    I'm not an expert but uh, I don't think this had anything to do with AI. It was just a scanner in a basket.

    bionicjoey,

    I never got to see it personally. But the demo videos definitely implied some OCR was being used as well.

    Squizzy,

    It did have AI, the cameras adjusted based on location, proximity, lighting, etc. They tracked you through the store and gavenyou a unique ID were trained to manage you being blocked from view by other shoppers.

    Darkassassin07,
    @Darkassassin07@lemmy.ca avatar

    Scanners in baskets/carts is what they are replacing this with.

    The ‘Just Walk Out’ system was as the name implies; grab product and leave. No scanners, no checkout, no cashiers; just cameras watching you shop, and a heavy implication that that video is primarily watched by AI to determine your purchases. AFAIK the only scanners were to read a qr code on entry to associate you with your amazon account; the rest is hands off. Or at least that’s what it’s supposed to be. Seems there’s a lot more labour under the hood than the advertising said. Shocker.

    iAmTheTot,
    iAmTheTot avatar

    Sounds like it was primarily watched by people in India.

    Darkassassin07,
    @Darkassassin07@lemmy.ca avatar

    Reality rarely meets expectations.

    Having Bozos set those expectations doesn’t help.

    Ottomateeverything,

    Yes, because when you run systems like that, you use the AI, and you have the people as a fallback for when the AI fails.

    It was primarily watched by people in India because the AI was failing the vast majority of the time.

    So yeah, the state of the art AI is… Failing at its job 70% of the time. Instead of the hoped goal of 5%.

    Harbinger01173430,

    Can’t they just…add sensors to the items and add them to your Amazon account cart anytime you add pick one, dunno, using some proximity stuff from the phone itself, then charge for the items once the phone leaves the store?

    0xD,

    Sure they can, it just isn’t as simple as “just” ;) How do you, for example, determine who picked which item if two people are standing next to each other? Or if something is put back?

    Sure, a proof of concept will always work. Building it for the real world is a completely and utterly different beast.

    Harbinger01173430,

    Meanwhile, my college machine learning model made to recognize three types of flower by sepal length: 92% success rate.

    eager_eagle,
    @eager_eagle@lemmy.world avatar

    idk…

    According to The Information, 700 out of 1,000 Just Walk Out sales required human reviewers as of 2022. This widely missed Amazon’s internal goals of reaching less than 50 reviews per 1,000 sales. Amazon called this characterization inaccurate, and disputes how many purchases require reviews.

    if Amazon wasn’t the source of this number, where is it coming from?

    errer,

    If the numbers don’t match your narrative, just make them up! That’s the Gizmodo way.

    pdxfed,

    Or Amazon, if you don’t like your employees having labor rights, just sue to have the NLRB declared unconstitutional with such awesome groups as Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

    schmidtster,

    Amazon was using people to train the model, so at the starts it would be 100%, but eventually the goal would be to get near zero, maybe the average was 70% but when the ended it was near 40%?

    Darkassassin07,
    @Darkassassin07@lemmy.ca avatar

    Probably the ‘1000 people in india’ reviewing that footage.

    The rest of the articles linked in the above one are pay walled and I don’t care enough to dig further.

    Brkdncr,

    I sat in front of one of these ideas at an airport. People are just dumb. They couldn’t figure out how to get into the store. They didn’t understand how to pay by just leaving.

    DeathsEmbrace,

    Never blame people for an issue with a system. If you have to blame the people then just admit your system is shit. It’s called idiot proofing and when theirs a bigger idiot proof it some more.

    BearOfaTime,

    I’ve said the same elsewhere, and the idiots here downvote to oblivion.

    It’s so weird. This is a basic rule of building anything that engages with the public. How can anyone assume that everyone will simply “get” how an interface works?

    pedroapero, (edited )

    This feels so creepy to, being watched spending your money by slaves on the other side of the globe, and Amazon pretending it to be automated !

    isles,

    Amazon pretending it to be automated !

    Is it surprising for a company running a service called Mechanical Turk?

    Llewellyn,

    Slaves?

    graymess,

    Incredible. Their “AI” is just a bunch of people watching cameras in India.

    Nardatronic,

    AI stands for Actually India

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