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Amazon Wants To Kill the Barcode

Friday December 9, 2022. 07:40 PM , from Slashdot
Robots may be the future, but robotic arms are apparently no good at using an old and steadfast form of technology: the barcode. Barcodes can be hard to find and might be affixed to oddly shaped products, Amazon said in a press release Friday, something robots can't troubleshoot very well. As a result, the company says it has a plan to kill the barcode. From a report: Using pictures of items in Amazon warehouses and training a computer model, the e-commerce giant has developed a camera system that can monitor items flowing one-by-one down conveyor belts to make sure they match their images. Eventually, Amazon's AI experts and roboticists want to combine the technology with robots that identify items while picking them up and turning them around.

'Solving this problem, so robots can pick up items and process them without needing to find and scan a barcode, is fundamental,' said Nontas Antonakos, an applied science manager in Amazon's computer vision group in Berlin. 'It will help us get packages to customers more quickly and accurately.' The system, called multi-modal identification, isn't going to fully replace barcodes soon. It's currently in use in facilities in Barcelona, Spain, and Hamburg, Germany, according to Amazon. Still, the company says it's already speeding up the time it takes to process packages there. The technology will be shared across Amazon's businesses, so it's possible you could one day see a version of it at a Whole Foods or another Amazon-owned chain with in-person stores.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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