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  • Writer's pictureJohn Ennis

Eye on AI - April 26, 2019

Welcome back to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!


This week the emphasis is on retail, as there were several noteworthy announcements involving robotics and facial recognition. First off, Walmart announced they would begin testing an AI-supported retail experience - cleverly named "IRL," ostensibly for "Intelligent Retail Lab" - in which in-store cameras would help with inventory management. See also a further write-up with additional commentary at The initial goal of the AI equipment is to "help the team focus on ... product inventory and availability", an idea consistent with the vision that AI can help automate mundane tasks so that humans are free to engage in creative or social behavior. Stock-outs are one of the biggest operational challenges that retailers face, so this technology promises to make everyone's life easier. Walmart's official announcement lists several other possibilities for AI, so I recommend you read through their summary to learn firsthand of their plans. Finally, to add context to this news, it's helpful to read up on Walmart's use of robots to reduce costs and improve the in-store experience.


On a related note, Kroger announced they are testing facial recognition technology in two stores to offer targeted real-time offers to shoppers. To me, this is a smart move as it leverages the one advantage a brick-and-mortar retailer has over an online merchant, namely the physical presence of the customer. Of course, privacy concerns loom over this project, so we'll see how it plays out.


Continuing with Kroger related news, Kroger also announced they have begun working with Nuro to deliver groceries via self-driving vehicles. This news is especially remarkable given that Google's drone delivery business received FAA approval this week. These news items are consistent with previous automated delivery developments such as those on which Bernard Marr recently reported in Forbes that continue to blur the line between online and offline shopping.


To conclude, here is a quick round-up of other AI related articles of general interest to sensory and consumer scientists:


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