Archive for the ‘April Fool’s Day’ Category

AFD News: Amazon to open brick-and-mortar department store

April 1, 2017

AFD News: Amazon to open brick-and-mortar department store

April 1, 2017 (AFD News)

Amazon (AMZN) is continuing its move into the physical retail space, after “Amazon Books” (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and (the yet to open to the public) “Amazon Go” (at AmazonSmile*). The newest venture is called simply, “Amazon Store”, and parallels a traditional department store.

Traditional, though, this is not.

Ironically, this “store” doesn’t store anything…there is no stockroom. Everything is on display.

Customers can pick up items (the one thing missing in Amazon’s online experience), try clothes on, and test out games and electronics. In fact, they’ll find that it is much more interactive than most shopping experiences: the game boxes are open, they can actually play a videogame while sitting on a couch, or try a frying pan in a working kitchen.

What happens if the customer does want to buy something?

Most commonly, they will have the item sent directly to their homes (or perhaps to an Amazon Locker location). In many cases, it will be waiting for them when they get there. If the customer wants the product right now, it can be delivered by drone (either aerial or ground transport, dispatched from a nearby Amazon fulfillment center) to a convenient pick up location in the parking lot, or for Prime members, directly to the trunk where a human being will help them load it (Amazon pioneered “trunkside” delivery with its recently announced AmazonFresh Pickup service).

Interestingly, that may have been the only human being they will see during their entire “Amazon Store” experience.

The store itself is “staffed” by a combination of robots and Alexa-voice enabled devices (in the latter case, some are visible and some are not). One Amazon staffer told me that it is referred to as the “KivAlexa” team, being a combination of Amazon’s Kiva robots and the Alexa Voice Service.

A shopper need only say, “Alexa, where are the children’s shoes?” to hear an answer…and a robot can lead them there. If a customer has a mobility issue, or just prefers to stay in the sumptuous lobby area (complete with child’s play zone), the Kiva robot can bring a product to them.

Screens scattered throughout the store, and near each product area, will show customer ratings, reviews, and questions and answers. In the coming months, the same information will appear in the Amazon shopping app…automatically, if you point your phone at a product (thanks to Firefly visual recognition technology first shown in Amazon’s now discontinued Fire phone).

There may be times when you really want to speak with a person. There are employees referred to as “Counselors”. A customer need only ask, and one will appear. From what we saw in the demonstration, the only indicator that they were Amazon employees was a discrete identity badge, and the individual representative’s picture had appeared on our phones, allowing complete security.

Speaking of security, Amazon assures us that standard womb-issued guards are onsite if needed, in addition to artificial intelligence monitoring.

The first store is due to open this summer near the small town of North Redwood, Minnesota. With a population of about 5,000, it might seem an odd choice. North Redwood is the Redwood County seat, and is on Highway 71 (with access from Highways 19 and 67). Additionally, Amazon must be aware of the fact (although it’s not mentioned in the materials) it was where Richard Warren Sears was working when he took the first steps towards establishing the Sears department store chain.

Is it possible that we are looking at as revolutionary a change in retailing? Probably not…since there isn’t an “Amazon Store”! April Fool! 😉

This is a work of (somewhat subtle, I admit) humor, ILMK’s annual April Fool’s Day post (it may not have been April 1st where you are when it was published, but it was for some of my readers).

 That said, I do think this is a potential near future scenario…I haven’t suggested anything here that is outside of the realm of existing trends.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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AFD News: Amazon introduces ‘Narcissus’, augmented reality mirror

April 1, 2016

AFD News: Amazon introduces ‘Narcissus’, augmented reality mirror

April 1, 2016 (AFD News)

Amazon (AMZN) announced an addition to its consumer hardware products today, an augmented reality mirror named “Narcissus”.

“The Narcissus allows our Amazon customers to see products in their homes and themselves in products before they buy them,” said Malcolm Franklin Issent, Amazon V.P. of Narcissus Development.

As demonstrated at the launch event, the Narcissus looks like a full-length mirror, surrounded by a number (17) of small cameras.

While it does function as a mirror, it is also a Wi-Fi connected screen.

Using the Narcissus app on a SmartPhone, http://www.amazon.narcissus.com, or an optional voice remote, the customer asks to see a product.

The product appears in the screen, while the screen continues to reflect the room.

For example, a customer can ask to see a lamp, and the lamp will appear in the mirror, and in an appropriate place, such as on a nightstand.

“Narcissus uses an artificial intelligence program named Willis to work within a map of the room. Willis is able to recognize thousands of household surfaces, and understands through a contextual neural network where a given item might belong,” said Issent.

When we were able to get five minutes with the Narcissus, we found that Willis worked remarkably well. When we asked for a jewelry box, it appeared on a dresser next to the closet. Even more impressive, we could rotate it, and the image in the mirror would change, as well as being able to move it to another place in the room.

The Willis feature will be available when the Narcissus ships to Prime members who pre-order it for delivery on May 12th.

Issent went on to describe two future features which will be available in “the coming months”.

With the Narcissus Dressing Room, customers will be able to see how an article of clothing will look on them, even as they move around and try it with items they already own.

The other major feature is Narcissus Spotlight. While no demonstration was available, an animation showed that a video, such as a movie or TV show, would be running on the Narcissus screen and the customer would appear to be in the scene. There didn’t seem to be any interaction, but the size of the customer was appropriate to other characters. While it is an interesting concept, we will have to wait to see the implementation. The CW was announced as a partner.

Similar to Amazon’s successful Alexa Voice Service, initially available on the Amazon Echo, there will be a third party developer platform, called “Narcissus Views”. Among the companies announced as having Narcissus Views in development were Rovio (maker of Angry Birds), the Marvel division of Disney, and National Geographic. Pupvizion had a demo which allowed us to see a puppy of one of six breeds of our choice (and a mixed breed) in the room with us.

For more information, see

Amazon Narcissus

Oh, and…APRIL FOOL!

There is, of course, no Amazon Narcissus…although honestly, I wish there was. 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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