Standard Cognition buys Explorer.ai to boost automated checkout ambitions
Standard Cognition, a start-up whose autonomous checkout technology enables retailers to compete with Amazon Go, has acquired Explorer.ai, a company with mapping and computer vision technology that could help support automated checkout in larger store formats, according to a Standard Cognition press release.
Explorer.ai's technology can help speed up the process of mapping camera placements in a store, which are essential to automated checkout architecture. This process can take several hours, but can be done in minutes through Explorer.ai, the press release stated.
Along with the technology, the acquisition brings Standard Cognition additional staff of seven experienced AI engineers. Explorer.ai's technology was developed by a team from Carnegie Mellon University, and initially was aimed at autonomous vehicles, the release said.
Thanks to the Amazon Go, Amazon has dominated the cashierless store landscape in the early going. And although there are only nine such stores to date, they are already believed to be prolific revenue generators. According to a recent report from RBC Capital Markets, each Amazon Go store could pull in somewhere between $1.1 million and $1.5 million in annual sales.
If Standard Cognition has its way, many other retailers in different market segments could be about to join in on the automated checkout fun. In recent months, the company landed Japanese wholesaler Paltac as a customer, and claimed to be working with many retailers. Standard Cognition also has been strengthening its management team with the addition of experienced retail executives, and in November announced it had raised $40 million in funding to bring its total war chest to more than $50 million.
That amount of money may qualify as loose change in the deep pockets of Amazon, but it's a very good start for a start-up just looking to get its foot in the door with retailers. And now, with the addition of technology that can help Standard Cognition speed the process of mapping larger store environments, the company ultimately can help retailer clients go to market faster with their own automated checkout offerings.
Explorer.ai's technology also could help Standard Cognition broaden the applicability of automated checkout. Amazon Go is focusing on relatively small (around 1,800 square feet) convenience store environments. Standard Cognition, which uses ceiling-mounted cameras and overall not as many sensors as an Amazon Go location, potentially could serve retailers in segments with larger store floors and broader product selections. Amazon is reinventing the convenience store with cashierless checkout, but Standard Cognition is putting itself in good position to help reinvent every other kind of store.