No bar code? No problem. New AI tech will recognize products without scanning

SeeChange Technologies’ SeeWare, integrated with Diebold Nixdorf’s self-service application Vynamic, uses machine learning to recognize products to improve the speed and accuracy of self-serve checkout. / Photo: SeeChange Technologies

Shoppers at grocery stores across Europe and the United States will soon find they no longer have to scroll through long lists of fresh produce at self-service checkout stations to scan their product, due to new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technology that can recognize produce and other unscannable items.  

The solution comes through a partnership between United Kingdom-based SeeChange Technologies, which is pioneering the AI-recognition system, and Cincinnati-based checkout manufacturer Diebold Nixdorf

Jason Souloglou, CEO of SeeChange, told Winsight Grocery Business that the new technology—known as SeeWare—is being tested at three supermarkets, including one in the U.K. and the other two at large supermarkets elsewhere in Europe. He said he the technology to be implemented in the second or third quarter of this year. 

The technology, which fully integrates with Diebold Nixdorf’s Vynamic self-service application, uses machine learning to recognize products, in turn improving the speed and accuracy of self-serve checkouts. It also can reduce theft, according to Souloglou. He said the current process, which requires consumers using self-checkout to navigate a digital list of non-barcode products, can be frustrating for customers and discourage the use of self-serve stations, as well as be time-consuming for grocery store staff and costly for retailers.  

Souloglou said SeeWare is expected to increase self-service checkout use by 33% and self-checkout speed by 67%. The company expects the technology also will reduce the number of interventions by store associates—who are frequently called over to help customers with non-barcode items—by 45%. He estimates the rollout to include about 5,000 stores a year.  

According to Matt Redwood, vice president of retail technology solutions at Diebold Nixdorf, retailers are increasingly looking to reduce friction points at the checkout counter.

“The difficulty comes when doing this while also keeping solutions open and flexible to anticipate future changes. SeeChange exactly meets our solution philosophy of ‘Modularity, Openness and Availability,’ an approach which enables agility and flexibility when innovating,” Redwood said in a statement.  

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