A few days after Amazon opened its Go Grocery, the first fresh food store without a cashier, in Seattle, USA, a journalist from ‘Ars Technica’ tested it to see if it was possible to fool the cameras and get out without detecting some products.
Like its predecessors, instead of having employees in charge of collecting purchases, the store uses a network of cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence to discover what customers choose in real time and then charge it to their Amazon account. Or maybe not?
You can’t enter the store without going through a lathe with the unique QR that Amazon generates in the Amazon Go app of your mobile phone – in which you must previously have entered credentials and a valid payment method. This implies two things: that you cannot enter the store without an Internet-connected smartphone and that you are marked in from the moment you set foot in it.
It is in that same lathe where the cameras first identify you, and from there on they begin to track every step and action you take and it is very difficult to escape their sophisticated surveillance system, or at least that is what ‘Ars Technica’ journalist Sam Machkovech has found.
Machkovech went to the new Amazon Go Grocery to see if he could bag some ‘free’ fruit and vegetables. The journalist “juggled” fruits and vegetables, rearranging bunches of bananas and even exchanging items behind his back, in the hope that “his sleight of hand would outshine the cameras”. But this did not work.
Machkovech finally decided to go into a bathroom, and although the corridors leading up to it had cameras, there are no cameras inside – obviously.
The journalist put on a jacket that he had in his backpack and took off his sunglasses, hoping that the change of clothes would help him disappear. Once out of the bathroom, he took some items to prove his theory and left the store.
When Machkovech finally received his bill, he discovered that he had been charged for the products he took before to go to the bathroom, but not for the items he took after the change of clothes.
In other words, it is enough to change his appearance to confuse the AI who/which manages the Amazon stores.