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How SJSU’s New AI-powered Ginger Market Works

Picture of the entrance of the Ginger Market at SJSU taken by Sachi Tolani

Have you visited the new Ginger Market completely powered by artificial intelligence (AI)? Say goodbye to check-out lines and just take your items and leave in between your classes. All you need is your phone with the Boost app downloaded. 

I have been there twice and was mind-blown by the new technology. But how does this technology work? What’s the process like? Keep reading to find out!

The Process

The Ginger Market is located on the SJSU campus on the bottom floor of MacQuarrie Hall. You can find a wide range of Asian snacks and meals as well as poke and sushi in this market. 

Here are the steps you take when you want to buy something from the Ginger Market:

  1. Walk in and open your Boost app.
  2. Open the Ginger Market Menu on Boost and click “Check In to Reader”.
  3. Tap your phone on one of the readers at the entrance of the Ginger Market.
  4. Put your phone away and browse the store for the items you want.
  5. Take the items and walk out of the store.
  6. You’ll get a notification when your receipt is ready with the items you took. The card associated with your Boost account will be charged for the items. 

You can also find instructions on the Boost app and when you walk into the store! 

Picture of the entrance of the Ginger Market at SJSU taken by Sachi Tolani

How It Works 

The Ginger Market uses autonomous, or frictionless, check-out which means it doesn’t require any cashiers. “Using AI-powered computer vision systems mounted at strategic locations throughout the store, the system accurately identifies the products shoppers select and automatically records the purchases on the SJSU Boost mobile app”, according to a February 2022 Standard AI blog post.

Standard transforms retail with autonomous checkout, and they work with retailers with existing stores to install their computer vision and AI-powered systems. 

The first thing I thought of when I heard about the cameras was my privacy. However, Standard AI’s cameras recognize people as “shoppers” and don’t use facial recognition. The multiple cameras in the store can recognize a single person as a shopper with a unique color around them. 

Standard AI compares their cameras to store clerks by saying, “just like a store clerk can see depth with their two eyes, our system can see depth with two or more cameras and can calculate where a shopper is in 3D as they move around”. Cameras can identify each individual without getting any information on them. 

So how do the cameras detect when you pick something up or put them back? The technology has a 3D understanding of the store layout and where and what the products are, so when someone picks up a product or keeps a product back on the shelf, it’s detected. 

Watch this video to see a visual representation of how the technology works. 

Student Thoughts

This frictionless market on campus was meant to make student lives easier. Having a grab-and-go option on campus is convenient and quick because there is no waiting in line. 

Here’s what some students have to say about the new Ginger Market:

“I think it’s really cool, we are going to be seeing more of those pop up around us now” (Manit Dassani, Senior). 

“​​I have only been to the Ginger market at SJSU once and it was a very smooth process. I used the Boost app to check in. It was very simple, and the staff outside that greeted me as I walked in. I just grabbed what I needed and left. A few minutes later I got my receipt. I definitely see myself going back, and I hope it continues to be improved” (Janice Lee, Junior). 

“I think it’s helpful because it saves time for people who are in a rush!” (Sakshi Chellani, Junior)

The Challenges

I asked one of the staff members at the Ginger Market, “what are some challenges you’ve faced after the autonomous checkout was implemented here?”. She said that it’s been very smooth except for a few hiccups in the beginning.

She said, “There’s a sensor that detects each person entering the store and scanning in. The sensor was not catching everyone when there was a lot of traffic in the front of the store. People were downloading the app and crowding the area” (Rose Lama). Lama said that this has gotten better over time and now it’s running smoothly. 

Another challenge was with the wifi. She said the wifi was slow because it’s being used by all of SJSU so people had to use hotspots at some point to log in to Boost. 

The Future of AI

As one student said, more autonomous checkouts will “pop up around us” after the success of this one. When I first thought of autonomous checkouts, I thought of Amazon Go which is only located in major cities. However, I never thought that something like that would be implemented at my school where I can use it regularly. This is the future and it starts with the places where convenience is key like at universities, offices, etc.  

More autonomous technology is being developed to make our lives easier and more convenient. Another example is self-driving cars. Tesla has an autopilot feature that also uses AI technology. These cars have advanced sensor coverage. Tesla has “eight surround cameras provide 360 degrees of visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range”. AI technology always uses cameras to detect the surrounding area and depth in order for it to be autonomous and a smooth process. 

Check out the new Ginger Market and share your thoughts by tagging @HerCampusSJSU on Instagram!  

My name is Sachi and I'm a Marketing Major at SJSU and I love photography, going on new adventures, and doing anything creative!
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