On Monday an AI-powered convenience store opened at a station on Tokyo's Yamanote loop line, reported The Mainichi. It is the first new store on the line in nearly 50 years but more importantly, it is completely unmanned.
The store uses 50 cameras to spot customer purchases and also identify potential thefts. Customers get all their products and pay for them at an exit counter. Once payment has been completed, the doors open to let the customers out.
The store isn't big, it is roughly 60 square meters, but it is a huge step forward for unmanned AI-powered shopping. This is partially because of the AI's advanced theft recognition capacities.
The store's AI system can recognize suspicious behavior and is constantly aware of what has been picked off of a shelf. The store's developer Touch To Go Co has run tests and found that hiding items under clothes or avoiding cameras while placing an item in a bag were both recognized as theft.
“Our AI learned by capturing images from different angles. It is not completely fail-proof, but it is almost impossible to shoplift,” Touch To Go President, Tomoki Akutsu, told The Mainichi.
There is no news yet as to how popular the store is. Time will tell whether customers will find the unmanned store convenient or whether they will be turned off by the lack of human touch.
However, for now, it seems that unmanned stores are the way of the future. They save the costs of labor and provide increased safety, making them likely more efficient than conventional stores.