Woolworths uses AI to recognise fruit and veg purchases

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Woolworths uses AI to recognise fruit and veg purchases
Tiliter scales in-store at Woolworths. (Credit: Tiliter)

Trials technology at three stores.

Woolworths is running trials of AI-enabled scales at three inner-city Sydney stores that can automatically recognise the type of fruit or vegetable being weighed.

The scales are made by Sydney-based startup Tiliter and are now on trial at Woolworths’ Pitt Street Metro, Metcentre Metro and MetroGo Strawberry Hills stores.

A demonstration of the machine shows a piece of stone fruit being placed on the scales and recognised as either a nectarine or peach.

The customer is then able to select the correct item on the display.

It is intended initially that the scales are used by Scan&Go customers - that is, customers using smartphones to scan and pay for items at selected Woolworths stores.

Scan&Go was launched in September 2018 and is now offered at 10 stores across Sydney.

It allows customers to scan products with their smartphone as they walk through the store and pay in the app before tapping off at a kiosk in the self-serve area of the supermarket.

Presently, for loose produce, customers must scan the produce's barcode on the shelf, then put the item on the scales, and scan an additional barcode that records the weight.

The Tiliter technology means customers place their produce on the scale and it displays a single barcode that the customer scans with their phone.

“While the feedback on our Scan&Go app has been really pleasing, we're constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience,” Woolworths’ general manager of digital and payments Paul Monnington told iTnews.

“We know the two-step scanning process with loose fruit and veg isn't quite as seamless as scanning pre-packed goods on the app.

“Together with Tiliter, we're trialling AI-enabled product recognition scales in a few of our Metro stores to see if we can speed the shopping experience up even further.

“We'll keep a close eye on customer feedback and scan accuracy before determining our next steps with the technology.”

Scales that used machine vision to automatically recognise fruit and vegetable purchases were flagged as an area of interest by Woolworths back in mid-2018.

As iTnews reported at the time, Woolworths’ had high ambitions for the technology, potentially applying it across its entire fleet of self-service checkouts.

Instead of requiring customers to slow down to manually search for items and then select the quantity, Woolworths had been hoping this could be automated in future.

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