To look into smart retail solutions with the Internet of Things (IoT), JD.com and Intel have teamed up to start the Digitized Retail Joint Lab. The effort is geared toward creating next-generation vending machines, advertising as well as media solutions and technology for the stores of the future, JD.com said in an announcement.
JD Big Data Platform Head and JD.com VP Zhi Weng said in the announcement that the “lab will combine our collective strengths to develop cutting-edge solutions to bring the precision of online shopping to offline players.”
The eCommerce retailer noted that the effort indicates an “extension” of a partnership that already exists between the company and Intel. It said that Intel’s OpenVINO computer vision architecture and RRI edge computing has already been merged with the company’s computer vision algorithms. That setup allows for the analysis of in-store purchasing habits and customer traffic.
Intel IOTG China General Manager and Intel VP Wei Chen said of the tie-up, “As China’s most influential retailer and a leader in data-driven offline retail innovation, JD is an important partner for us to continue to develop a wide range of use cases for our latest technology developments. We are happy to take our partnership to the next level.”
The news comes a few months after JD.com Chief Executive Richard Liu remarked that he believes that robots will eventually take the place of human workers in the retail space. While Liu believes the change is inevitable, such a transition may take some time, Reuters reported in April. “Sooner or later, our entire industry will be operated by AI (artificial intelligence) and robots, not humans,” Liu said at an event in Spain.
JD.com is already investing in innovations like robotics, drones and automation. In addition, the company has build a large network for logistics. Even so, Liu thinks it may take another decade for shoppers (and the technology) to be ready for retail stores that are fully automated retail stores.