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Amazon Go kills off superstore checkouts

Everyone wants to reinvent everything this week. Amazon’s doing it with supermarkets, Microsoft wants to do it with search, and Apple is probably doing it with cars. It’s all in our weekly tech roundup of the Web’s most interesting stories.


Arrows for adding products to Shopping basket or shopping cart illustration concept. EPS 10 file. Transparency effects used on highlight elements.

Amazon wants to do away with superstore checkouts altogether. The company announced Amazon Go, a new kind of supermarket that doesn’t have checkouts at all. Instead, customers armed with an Amazon Go app will just take what they want from the store and be charged later.

The system uses a mixture of cameras, audio sensors, cellular triangulation and artificial intelligence to work out where people are in the store and what they’re doing. It will watch your every move and work out what you’re taking from the shelves before charging it to your Amazon account. It’s the latest step in Jeff Bezos’ world domination strategy, which now extends from space to the supermarket.

Fitbit kills off Pebble

Fitbit is buying smartwatch pioneer Pebble. The deal would seem to effectively kill off Pebble, as the acquisition doesn’t include the firm’s products, work on several of which has been cancelled. Pebble users can expect less support and fewer if any software updates. So why did Fitbit agree to snap up Pebble? It likes the company’s smartwatch software, which it hopes will give its own products a shot in the arm.

Pebble recently slashed a quarter of its workforce. It’s the end of an era for the company that raised millions to launch its dream smartwatch on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform.

Microsoft researchers want to kill off the search bar

Microsoft boffins think that its search bar will disappear from browsers and operating systems in 10 years. Susan Dumais, deputy managing director at the firm’s Redmond research lab, says that systems will instead be “more ubiquitous, embedded and contextually sensitive.” Computers will eventually let us look things up using sound, images and video, and will work out what we want to know based on our location, content and activities, she hopes.

It all sounds a little like the 21st century version of Clippy, the much-hated Microsoft software ‘assistant,’ who tried to predict what we were doing in Word.

Let’s hope it works better this time. Otherwise your car in 2027 may ask if you need help getting to work, before opening the sunroof in torrential rain and putting your vehicle in reverse.

Apple confirms interest in self-driving cars

Talking of driving, Apple finally broke its silence on self-driving cars. The firm revealed its interest in automated driving systems in a letter to U.S. transport regulators. It didn’t explicitly say it was making one, but writing to transport regulators is a clear sign that it’s at least mulling the problem.

Recent reports have suggested Apple may be concentrating on software for self-driving cars, rather than the physical cars themselves. Perhaps that’s a good thing, lest we end up with a car that needs a dongle to connect it to the gas pump.

Dingbat of the week

This week’s dingbat is U.K. telco TalkTalk, which learned that a flaw in its routers left them vulnerable to attack. The Mirai malware was reportedly used to steal login credentials from the routers, and an anonymous source told the BBC that it had 57,000 router passwords and SSIDs. Spokespeople from the company said that users didn’t need to change their passwords, prompting cybersecurity experts to scold it for giving out bad advice.

TalkTalk has been a target for controversy after it contradicted itself over a massive hack of customer data in late 2015. The Information Commissioner in the U.K. later fined it £400,000 for losing almost 157,000 customer records.

Image: iStock

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