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    Amazon's First C-store Begins Testing in Seattle

    Tech initiatives build, tally virtual carts.

    SEATTLE — Online giant Amazon.com is piloting its new convenience store format in its hometown.

    The 1,800-square-foot store, known as "Amazon Go," uses technology to allow customers to walk in, pick out items and walk out without hitting the checkout area, according to the Seattle Times. The store is currently open to Amazon employees participating in the test program. Plans call for it to open to the public early next year. 

    The store features ready-to-eat meals and snacks prepared by on-site chefs or local bakeries, in addition to essentials such as bread and milk.

    Amazon said there will be well-known brands as well as "special finds we're excited to introduce to customers, including an "Amazon Meal Kit," which contains ingredients needed to make a meal for two in 30 minutes, the news outlet reported.

    According the e-commerce company, it started to look into this twist on shopping four years ago. "What if we can weave the most advanced machine learning, computer vision and AI into the very fabric of a store so you never have to wait in line?" asked Amazon in a video promoting Amazon Go.

    Under the new format, customers use their Amazon Go app to enter a store and start shopping. A combination of technologies adds items customers pick up to their virtual cart. Anything returned to the shelf will be deleted from the virtual cart, the company explained. 

    Calling it "Just Walk Out Technology," Amazon described the innovation as a mix of "computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion much like a self-driving car."

    When customers leave the store, the Just Walk Out Technology adds up their virtual cart and charges their Amazon account. The receipt is sent to the app and customers "can keep going," the company added.

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