Walmart has officially opened its AI-based store concept the Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) in Levittown, New York.
The lab is located inside a 50,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market, where computer vision along with thousands of cameras and sensors monitor the store in real-time. The technology observes details such as stock levels, the freshness of perishables, length of check-out lines and much more, and then notifies staff when action needs to be taken.
Competitors like Amazon, are embracing artificial intelligence with stores like Amazon Go, leading Walmart to develop an AI-concept of their own.
The department store giant has taken a very different approach to its AI-concept, as the IRL still has staff and check-out lines, but their aim is to use AI to better the service staff are delivering. Walmart explains in a statement, “this is meant to minimize drudgery for workers and free them for tasks humans can do best.”
The IRL is Walmart’s method of experimenting with this new technology before implementing it into stores over the next six months. Walmart is tackling privacy concerns with information kiosks dotted around the market.
Walmart also wants to reassure customers that the cameras are focused solely on products and shelves and “do not recognize faces, determine the ethnicity of a person picking up a product or track the movement of shoppers.” Other retailers are currently trialing cameras that can guess a shoppers gender, age, and moods.
While Amazon Go has based its AI-concept around less human interaction, Walmart hopes that by improving the shopping experience, they will see a rise in sales.