A scanning robot from 4D Retail Technology can scan an entire grocery store in about an hour. AI might be a hot topic but you'll still need to justify those projects. The reason you're hearing more about robots these days has a lot to do with non-robotic technologies. After all, for the last fifty years mechanical engineers have been able to make some pretty snazzy machines that move on their own. It's only with the rise of complementary sensor and computing technologies that robots are starting to show their true usefulness outside of factories.
The use of robots on the retail sales floor is the same sort of double-edged sword as when used for the warehouse. Some see them as capable of handling arduous processes to allow employees to focus on customer service. Others see robots as pure replacements, threatening to cut out the need for real live human staff. The latest robot to make an appearance at the front of the store is, if it catches on, likely to generate the same sort of controversy. A company called 4D Retail Technology Corp. has created a robot capable of automating the inventory process by rolling through the aisles and imaging every product and every barcode in a store.
Apple's new flagship store in San Francisco boasts a town hall feel. SAN FRANCISCO - One of the most successful stores in the history of retail is getting a major makeover. Apple opened the 42-by-40-foot sliding glass doors to its new flagship store here Thursday, throwing the curtain back on a design that puts a premium on hanging out over shopping. Roughly 20% of the new store's space is dedicated to an open Forum area where visitors can learn about the company's various software and hardware offerings. The store officially opens May 21; Apple has ready rolled out its new populist look at stores in Brussels, Memphis and Guilderland, N.Y.
Stock-taking is one of those awful jobs that robots are primed to take. A Toronto-based company is working hard to make that happen, with a Segway-based robot that rolls down the aisles, scanning as it moves. The "Space Genius" looks like a marginally less threatening Dalek, as it rolls down the aisles of a store, using 3D cameras to scan aisles and record stock. According to the manufacturer, it can inventory a normal supermarket in under an hour, apparently including the precise inventory (although previous attempts at store robots have struggled with that). The data allows the robot to not only replace humans, but go one better.
"Hey, did you see what's going on at Apple?" That's the sort of thing Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts wants people to say to their friends about the company's massive new flagship store opening this weekend in downtown San Francisco. And the answer will presumably be something more than, "Yeah, see you down at'Genius Grove.'" To that end, the store is outfitted with a slew of new programs and spaces aimed at drawing people in for reasons other than just shopping. SEE ALSO: Thousands line up in the rain for Guangzhou's new Apple store There is a park-like outdoor area where weekend acoustic performances will be held; an indoor event space for guest lectures and classes; a creativity-focused version of the Genius bar that offers advice to aspiring photographers and music makers; and a "Boardroom," where Apple envisions startup employees flocking to learn more about Apple's enterprise offerings. "This is the overarching vision for the future of Apple retail," Ahrendts said in a rare public appearance on Thursday as press previewed the store.