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Exclusive: Standard AI shifts focus to computer vision analytics for retailers, now valued at $1.5 billion

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Standard AI, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company, announced today that it is pivoting from its initial focus on automated checkout systems to providing computer vision analytics solutions to retailers.

VentureBeat also learned that the company is currently valued at $1.5 billion, which is an important milestone in the company’s transformation of its business strategy. In line with this strategic shift, Standard AI has promoted chief operating officer Angie Westbrock to chief executive officer and senior vice president of technology strategy David Woollard to chief technology officer.

The company says its new suite of products will help retailers gain valuable insights into shopper behavior, optimize sales strategies, reduce out-of-stock items and prevent losses — all without using facial recognition or collecting personally identifiable information.

“We’ve found that by solving specific challenges like analyzing shopper interactions and monitoring inventory levels, retailers and brands can realize ROI and see an immediate return on investment,” Angie Westbrook, CEO of Standard AI, said in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat. This targeted approach allows us to provide more tangible solutions.”

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Adapt to the actual situation of the retail market

Standard AI was founded in 2017 with the original goal of making fully automated checkouts a widespread reality. However, the technology has yet to see mass adoption, in part due to high costs and slower-than-expected consumer acceptance.

“Automated checkout hasn’t reached mass-market scale yet,” Westbrock told VentureBeat. “While infrastructure and computing costs pose some barriers, the main challenge stems from slower-than-expected shopper adoption, resulting in low return on investment.”

Standard AI realized that the advanced artificial intelligence model it developed for its own stores, which could track individual products and shopper behavior with 98% accuracy, had valuable applications beyond cashierless systems.

“The autonomous technology stack we’ve been building is the foundation for all of our vision products,” Westerbrock said. “We started with the most complex problem first, which is automated checkout…but the applications of this technology extend far beyond automated checkout.”

Leveraging artificial intelligence to provide new insights

The new visual analytics product leverages an “autonomous technology stack” of standard artificial intelligence to generate real-time insights for retailers without the need for a fully autonomous setup.

Heat maps show detailed shopper movement and product interaction data, not just foot traffic. Out-of-stock detection enables proactive inventory management. The system can even measure potential lost sales due to out-of-stock items.

“The level of information we can bring is [similar to] How Google Analytics is unlocking e-commerce,” said Westbrook. “Understanding how shoppers interact with products, where they purchase them from – this has never been possible before. “

Partnering with Google Cloud and others to provide computing infrastructure that enables retailers to realize an AI-driven future. But the key difference is Standard AI’s software and data accuracy, honed over years of developing autonomous systems.

Navigate the competitive landscape

This shift puts Standard AI into competition with several major retail analytics providers including IBM, Oracle, SAP SE, and Salesforce. But the company believes its unique full-course tracking and highly accurate artificial intelligence models give it an advantage. “The only thing worse than no data is bad data,” Westbrock told VentureBeat, emphasizing Standard AI’s data fidelity.

The shift comes as retailers look to adopt more data-driven strategies to stay competitive in the e-commerce era. While foot traffic has rebounded post-pandemic, brick-and-mortar stores are looking for ways to optimize operations and sales to maximize sales per visit. According to recent forecasts from ReportLinker, AI spending in retail is expected to grow to $29.45 billion by 2028.

Standard AI’s ability to track individual products and shopper interactions sets them apart from competitors that rely on more general foot traffic data. This granular data can help retailers optimize store layout, product placement and inventory management in ways that were previously impossible.

Autonomous checkout faces headwinds and pivots

The company’s shift also reflects the challenges faced by startups seeking to develop fully autonomous retail solutions that can meaningfully replace traditional checkouts. Amazon has been investing heavily in “Just Walk Out” technology and has opened several fully autonomous stores, but it has yet to significantly expand the model beyond its own footprint.

For AI startups banking on a quick transition to autonomous shopping, turning to peripheral products that can provide near-term value, such as visual analytics tools, may offer a more viable path to commercialization and growth. Standard AI’s move may also prompt other autonomous retail technology developers to reassess their go-to-market strategies.

Still, the company remains optimistic about the long-term potential of artificial intelligence to transform physical retail. “This is really about building the infrastructure for the future,” Ms Westbrook said. “We provide the software elements that bring all of this infrastructure to life… transforming and delivering this infrastructure for the future.”

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