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Queues no more: Kiwi startup uses AI to make trolleys smarter
Fri, 24th Jan 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The future of shopping may soon become a lot smarter and less frustrating for people who hate queuing up at checkouts, thanks to tech developed right here in New Zealand.

IMAGR is an Auckland-based startup that designed the SmartCard intelligent shopping trolley. The trolley uses computer vision technology and artificial intelligence to analyse what people plan to buy, and then uses a checkout automation system to enable super easy payments.

IMAGR explains more: “SmartCarts contain four cameras, coupled with the world's most powerful AI vision recognition system. As a result, SmartCart knows what a customer puts in, or removes from, their carts. Self-contained in a robust trolley which is visually indistinguishable from a regular shopping cart, the cameras examine, recognise and account for goods as they are added or removed.

The technology has piqued the interest of the folks at Toshiba Tec, which is a huge name in the convenience market over in Japan.

Toshiba Tec led IMAGR's recent $14 million dollar pre-series A funding round, with support from Sage Capital and Harald McPike.

“We looked globally for the most promising automated checkout provider and settled on IMAGR as the most advanced technology of its kind,” says Toshiba Tec's senior vice president Masami Uchiyama.

“Its computer vision and AI technology is industry-leading, outperforming other AI retail systems we have seen, and the integration into existing stores is simple and scalable. We can't wait to see IMAGR change the retail industry in the 2020s."

IMAGR's CEO William Chomley says the company is thrilled to be backed by support from such a major firm as Toshiba Tec.

“Its support of IMAGR shows we have the right technology in place to change how retail shopping is done across the world.

He adds that IMAGR was overwhelmed by the support from its capital raise – the company's round was oversubscribed by almost double the initial target amount.

Next year, IMAGR's SmartCarts will launch in Japan with H2O RETAILING CORPORATION and in New Zealand with Farro Fresh.

Chomley says the funding from the capital raise will benefit execution in the Japanese and New Zealand markets, as well as further international expansion.

“Since starting up in 2017 we've experienced rapid expansion, as well as interest and commitment for our product. We've always had a simple goal: to make it easier for people around the world to shop. This funding will allow us to accelerate our plans, ensuring more people will be skipping queues by utilising our SmartCarts in 2020 and beyond.