image credit: AP/Mark Lennihan
Walmart Labs is the technology arm of the global retailer where they test innovations that will ultimately make their stores more efficient and improve customer experience. The company has even incorporated retail labs at physical stores to test the tech in a real-world environment. Their newest location is located on Long Island New York and it’s focused on using artificial intelligence to help monitor their stores in real time.
The retailer has recently opened an Intelligent Retail Lab inside the 50,000 square foot Neighborhood Market grocery store in Levittown, New York. It’s using the lab to test technology that will essentially digitize its physical stores which allows them to be monitored by artificial intelligence.
Walmart Lab Store Features Thousands of Cameras
The Long Island store will feature thousands of cameras covering every area of the store. Sensors will also be on shelves to help track products. This tech will allow the store to be monitored in real time and quickly alert employees if any issues arise. It can do things like spot spills or check if items need to be restocked.
“We really like to think of this store as an artificial intelligence factory, a place where we are building these products, experiences, where we are testing and learning,” said Mike Hanrahan, CEO of Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab.
Walmart Monitoring Products Not Customers
As far as privacy goes, the cameras are programmed to focus primarily on the products and shelves. They do not have facial recognition nor track the shoppers. The store does not have cameras located in the bathrooms, pharmacy or employee break rooms.
The Neighborhood Market is filled signs informing customers about the lab. It even has educational kiosks where they can learn more about the project. For computer enthusiasts, they can take a look inside the glass-enclosed data center. Located in the back of the store, it includes 100 servers and nine cooling towers.
Walmart Also Has Lab Location in Dallas Store
The Long Island location is Walmart’s second lab in a physical store. Last year the company opened up one in Dallas to help test the Scan & Go app. The app allows shoppers to skip the checkout line by scanning items as they shop and pay via their smartphone.
Walmart has put a priority on modernizing its stores in recent years. They’ve also been testing floor cleaning robots, facial recognition that can spot angry customers, and robots that can scan shelves. Along with keeping up with competitors like Amazon and Target, the company wants to make stores more efficient and provide a better shopping experience.