MICROSOFT IS REPORTEDLY SEEKING to emulate Amazon's successful cashierless 'Amazon Go' model.
Reuters reports that the company has already sought a patent and is in discussions with retail giant Walmart about a collaboration, as well as discussing with other retailers around the world.
The Amazon Go concept has not been without its teething troubles, but now the series of scanners, cameras and readers seem to be working well enough to justify opening further stores, one in Chicago and a second in San Francisco.
The Microsoft team, meanwhile, is said to include a former Amazon Go developer who is working on a way of using the shopping trolley as a camera mount for watching the products being picked up.
The idea of online shopping becoming a conduit to traditional offline retailers is nothing new - in the UK, we already have a strategic partnership between Morrisons and Amazon Fresh and, of course, Ocado with Waitrose.
Microsoft gave the standard retort that it "does not comment on rumours or speculation" (so yes then, probably) and Walmart and Amazon also both declined to throw Reuters a bone.
Some fear that unless the technology is brought down to a negligible price, then it could eat into the already tiny profits in the sector. Amazon spent four years developing its own service and opened it as an employee-only store for over another year before finally releasing it to the public, which suggests that the level of development research alone will drive up costs, even before the equipment is factored in.
But, once its up and running, it only has to be developed once, so we could see prices to rig up your shop drop significantly in the coming years.
In the meantime, Amazon has said it has no plans to roll out Amazon Go in its Whole Foods stores, whilst Microsoft is said to already have six partners for its own endeavour, with Microsoft taking its cut in the form of the cloud-based layer on its own Azure system. µ
But we probably won't see it until next year
Why stick a finger in a dyke when you can ram the entire boy in the hole, eh?
Reminds us that we're supposed to be able to trust them
'Exclusive' model starts shipping on 29 June