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Experimental Walmart AI-Store Makes An Appearance

A town in Levittown, NY is now home to the new Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) “store of the future.” The new Walmart store features AI controlled cameras and displays, a working concept for the retail giant.

new Walmart store
Walmart Corporate from Bentonville, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The new concept store differs from Amazon Go convenience stores which also feature AI technology. One of the main difference is that the Walmart store is a fully stock supermarket with 30,000 items. The AI-technology will allow the retail giant to test out the technology is a real-world setting. The 50,000 square foot store will be staffed with more than 100 employees.

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Unlike Amazon Go stores, the AI enabled cameras in the Walmart store will not be used to track customer purchases. Instead, the Walmart stores will feature traditional checkout stations. The AI-enabled cameras in the new Walmart store will be used to track inventory levels in order to alert personnel to restock shelves or bring out more produce. The retail juggernaut claims that it sees AI-technology as being complementary to current employee activity, not as a replacement.

According to Walmart, the technology is meant to help store associates become more efficient and responsive, allowing them more time to interact with customers.

The amount of data that is required to monitor the store is 1.6 TB of data per second, to put it in relative terms it is like downloading three years worth of music. The new Walmart store will require large data centers on site to facilitate all this data processing.

Walmart has also recently announced new cleaning robots that will be used to clean store floors. Again promising that these initiatives are to enhance Walmart employee capacity to meet customer needs and not to make a push toward a fully automated store. It appears that time will tell the direction the retail giant chooses to go.