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Amazon Wants to Kill the Barcode

Amazon’s new multi-modal identification aims to link photo recognition and robotic packing in its warehouses.

Screen Shot 2022 04 18 At 2 39 32 Pm
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The barcode dates back to 1948 when two innovative students at Drexel University saw issues with how the supermarket industry managed inventory and customer check-out. Since then, it has been a staple organized labeling. Now, according to a recent CNET article, Amazon, the world’s biggest retailer is planning to eliminate barcodes. As the ecommerce giant becomes  more dependent on automated robotic processes, it is realizing that new technology isn’t as compatible with the old. For example, barcodes can be difficult to locate on oddly-shaped items, and robots don’t have an efficient way to troubleshoot that.

So now Amazon is using images of items in warehouses to train a computer model to identify products. The company developed a camera system that monitors items moving along conveyor belts to make sure they match their images. In time, the company’s AI experts and robot engineers will combine the technology with the robots that identify items as they pick them up and rotate them. The system is called multi-modal identification, and it could rewrite the way products are handled and identified during production and fulfillment.

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