Walmart is creating an Intelligence Retail Lab for developing artificial intelligence technology and applications inside of a Walmart store located in Levittown, New York, reports TechCrunch.
The retailer wants to use AI technology to explore store associate-facing and customer-facing applications, including the ability to track and replenish low supplies of inventory, detect numbers of shopping carts available at the store entrance and other capabilities, the report said.
The AI developments are being pursued by Walmart's Project Kepler technology team, which was previously thought to be working on cashierless store concepts similar to Amazon Go, the story stated.
The retailer is developing a number of technologies with in-store applications and implications, and these developments have been happening in a variety of environments. Walmart Labs has several outposts around the country and has continued to hire talent for these locations throughout the past year.
Walmart has been making aggressive technical advancements, including:
- Working with virtual reality in its startup incubator Store No. 8 in California.
- Expanding its partnership with Microsoft for an Austin tech hub working on cloud technologies, including cloud-based data analysis aimed at physical store operational efficiencies.
- Adding an augmented reality-based price-scanning feature to be used in stores.
Walmart is creating another center of technology development, and the placement — inside a store — is tantalizingly close to the store operations, associates and customers the innovations will impact.
AI is central to the technology developments Walmart is pursuing around the country, but the Levittown store lab puts Walmart in a position to test, evaluate and tweak AI developments quickly in a live environment.
Project Kepler was previously reported as the name tag for the retailer's Amazon Go-like store experience Walmart was working on a year ago. It's not clear if the same team is working on both efforts, or if they are intermingled in some way — the sector may just have to wait and see what comes out of Levittown. Walmart, in any case, has a lot of innovation irons in the fire at a time when technology has never been more critical to brick-and-mortar store success.