Chinese Dark Horse To Challenge Global Giants With New Checkout Experience

Jan. 3, 2018

BEIJING, Jan. 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- YI Tunnel, an AI solutions provider from China, has disrupted the traditional checkout equipment using an image recognition technology starting from a single scenario. With this, it has redefined the checkout experience for consumers. 

The AI-based unattended cash register developed by YI Tunnel, which allows automatic checkout just by taking a "look" at the items purchased, combines barcode scanner, scale, and membership card into one. With that, a consumer just needs to put individual items (prepacked food or grocery) on the cash register, and the screen will directly display their prices. Finally,  the consumer can pay for your purchases using WeChat, Alipay or credit card or simply by scanning your face. 

This advanced technology not only can replace supermarket cashiers in the future but also has completely solved the high cost of RFID tags and the limitations of barcodes in use. It can gradually replace the Point of Sale (POS) systems in the future.  

Also by starting from a single scenario, YI Tunnel developed an AI-based vending machine using the semantic action recognition technology. Having redefined automation, it is more automatic and more convenient than traditional vending machines. 

A consumer can open the vending machine by using his or her credit card or using WeChat or Alipay to scan the QR code. He or she then can choose and take the items they want to buy, and the system will be able to identify the items in real time. After the door of the machine is closed, the system will automatically take money from their account to pay for the items. 

Meanwhile, the AI vending machine of YI Tunnel provides a cloud-based supply & sales management platform. It can provide commodities dynamically in accordance with where the machine is put and what the consumption habits of the people in the surrounding areas are, and then keep optimizing the supply chain based on sales. When the number of users has reached a certain level, target advertising will be possible in accordance with the consumption habits of the target audience. 

AI products designed for a single scenario make it easier for YI Tunnel to obtain data about the scenario, to optimize the algorithm, to build a trusted relationship with the retailers, and to accumulate experiences for developing the unattended store technology. Today, YI Tunnel has developed an unattended store solution that works with visual recognition technology only. This has redefined unattended stores, allowing you to really take and go!    

This solution looks somewhat like global giant, but the technical route and stability are totally different: The technology used by global giant is the RFID technology, which is to attach a small chip to each item, and when an item is taken by a customer, the chip will be scanned and recorded to the customer's personal account through a video sensor or a sensor of a different type. In comparison, YI Tunnel uses "semantic action recognition + facial recognition" to create the "facial recognition-based access control system + smart shelves". While maximizing the utilization of floor space, this can also ensure accuracy when there are multiple people shopping at the same time. 

As a team that was formed not long ago, YI Tunnel has received investments from multiple investors including Baidu Ventures. Its values recognized by the investors are as follows: 

The first is the power of its technology. Currently, YI Tunnel can identify 10 thousand SKUs of items and has marked over 10 million items. The recognition time of each item is 0.02 seconds, the accuracy for recognition and checkout is over 99.7 percent, and the error rate is only 1/500 of that of artificial checkout. 

The second is the speed of deployment. According to the official information, it only takes one month to deploy YI Tunnel's AI-based unattended cash register from data collection to implementation for 10 thousand SKUs. This has dramatically increased the speed of collaborating with the retailers and the possibility of optimizing the algorithm. 

And the third is the value of the data in its possession. For example, YI Tunnel has optimized the checkout process using AI; it will collect the face data and transaction data of consumers in this process, which will become a key point in the online-offline data loop; after integration with those who own the online data, the IDs of consumers can be shared for more accurate marketing; at the same time, the system can integrate and analyze the product data and transaction data collected by the YI Tunnel AI Robot, and can also analyze other things such as store operation as well as sales by category or by brand.