What is “Just Walk Out”?
Imagine walking into a store, grabbing the items you need, filling your bag, and then casually strolling out, all the while an app automatically deducts the cost from your account without any hassle. No need to stand in line, wait for a cashier to scan each item, or wait for store employees to bag your purchases.
This is Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, which eliminates all the traditional checkout steps, allowing customers to enjoy a top-tier shopping experience without the need to queue, interact with a cashier, or deal with the typical checkout process. The technology made its debut at Amazon Go convenience stores in 2018 and relies on cameras, shelf sensors, sensor integration, and computer vision to track customers’ shopping activities.
According to Amazon, customers can register at specialized kiosks or devices at participating locations, a process that takes less than a minute. After inserting their credit card, shoppers place their palms on the device and then follow prompts to associate the card with their palm signature.
As customers enter the store, they select and try on their preferred items. Every item for sale in such stores, such as clothing on hangers, hats, or other products, features a unique RFID tag that resembles standard clothing labels.
When customers finish shopping, they can simply exit by using their credit or debit card or by hovering their hand over a scanning device, a process that typically takes only one second. As they pass through the exit doors, readers scan the RFID tags on each item and charge the customer’s credit card or Amazon One account.
“RFID technology has been around for decades, typically employed by stores to track and manage inventory. Given the widespread use of RFID in the retail supply chain, we decided to find a way to make RFID even more convenient for customers in a checkout-free environment,” explained Jon Jenkins, Vice President of Just Walk Out Technology at AWS Applications.
Currently, Amazon has implemented the Just Walk Out technology in over 150 stores. Results indicate that, due to the straightforward process and reduced wait times, transaction volumes have significantly increased, resulting in a substantial boost in customer traffic at retail stores.
Not Just Contactless Payments
RFID has long been a significant technology not only for convenient payments but also for various tracking applications in both personnel and inventory management industries. It’s used for swiftly checking warehouse stock, preventing luggage loss, and even enhancing the amusement park experience.
MIT’s Use of Drones and RFID Technology for Warehouse Management
To facilitate swift and accurate inventory management in massive warehouses, a research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) equipped drones with miniature relays, that function similarly to Wi-Fi repeaters. These drones receive signals sent by remote RFID readers and relay them to nearby tag readers.
The drones easily access locations that would require ladders or lifts for human entry, repeatedly reading each tag as they fly overhead. Through programmed navigation, they rapidly take inventory. Drones equipped with RFID technology can replace human inventory counts with less hassle and time, allowing humans to free up time for more essential tasks.
Delta Airlines Introduces RFID Bag Tags
Since the 1990s, airlines have managed the vast quantity of passenger luggage using barcode tags that are manually scanned. While this method achieves an accuracy rate of around 95%, it still means a small percentage of luggage gets misplaced.
To fundamentally eliminate the issue of lost luggage, Delta Airlines decided to adopt a new approach – equipping luggage with built-in RFID tags. This move successfully reduced the luggage loss rate to below 0.01%, without adding any extra burden for the airline or passengers.
Visitors Wear Rubber Wristbands at Disney World
Disney World introduced rubber RFID wristbands known as MagicBands, which serve various purposes, from unlocking hotel rooms to acting as fast passes, enabling visitors to bypass long lines at attractions and make purchases within the amusement park.
With thousands of visitors coming to Disney parks every day, MagicBands not only provides substantial convenience during visitors’ experiences but also has become a fashion statement, making more people aware of and willing to embrace this data-driven way of enjoying their visit.