ITRI to trial unmanned supermarket in northern Taiwan

Industrial Technology Research Institute to trial unmanned supermarket at Hsinchu campus by year end

Unmanned supermarket app. (Image courtesy of ITRI)

Unmanned supermarket app. (Image courtesy of ITRI)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan research and development organization, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院巨資技中心) will begin in-house testing of an unmanned supermarket at their Hsinchu campus by the end of the year.

The unmanned supermarket will allow shoppers to buy products without queuing, using sensor technology tied to a smart phone app.

Development of unmanned supermarkets using emerging technologies like machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things is fierce, with e-commerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba spending big money on the emerging technology.

"The concept and demand of unmanned shops are not new, but in recent years there will be a leap in growth, because related technologies have finally caught up" said Yu Hsiao-hsien (余孝先) in a feature by the ITRI.

ITRI has developed a "take away and go" system where camera vision and sensor technology tracks a customer's purchases, reported the Liberty Times.

Cameras fitted to the ceiling and on shelves track a shopper's movement and product selection, and purchases are tied to a smart phone app. The app will show the price and bundle of products selected and the total price will be automatically deducted when the shopper leaves the store.

Automated scanning of the product, rather than the barcode is a key feature of the ITRI project. Over time, deep learning will allow the computers to scan products with increasing speed and accuracy.

Lin Ching-ta, head of ITRI's Information and Communications Research Laboratories told the Liberty Times, "Technology is to solve people's problems, not to completely replace people's roles".

In Taiwan, 7-Eleven has opened an experimental unmanned store in their headquarters, and Family Mart is expected to roll out its technology concept store later this year, or earlier next year.