5 minutes with William Chomley, founder of tech start-up IMAGR

New Zealand startup IMAGR has declared its mission to enable the fast and reliable identification of people and products for the sake of paving the way to a smarter retail future. One of its projects, SMARTCART, is set to revolutionise our supermarket shop and the man behind the endeavour is Aucklander William Chomley.

Described as ‘the world’s first truly personalised shopping solution’, the technology combines AI and computer vision to allow shoppers to pair their smartphones with their shopping carts using a unique QR code. As shoppers fill their cart (or trolley), each item is automatically identified by several small cameras, then added to a list on the app. When the shop is complete, users can walk straight out the door, foregoing lengthy checkout lines, to be charged via a pre-logged credit card.

Here we talk to Chomley about his game-changing shopping solution.

What do you hope to achieve with IMAGR? Our mission is to create the most seamless in-store customer experience for everyone visiting a supermarket.

How are you doing this? IMAGR is achieving this through SMARTCART, a first-to-market product that knows what’s in your cart, updates the cost in real time, and captures payment at exit. It helps the shopper avoid checkout delays and provides the most seamless supermarket customer experience.

Realistically, when do you think consumers will be experiencing this technology in stores? IMAGR is working to get it there as quickly as possible, however, consumers can already experience something similar through AmazonGo in Seattle. We expect this technology will be mainstream in
two years.

Would you call working in AI your passion? If not, what drives you? IMAGR is a customer experience company. The way we achieve the experience is through AI, so I wouldn’t call AI my passion, although I am constantly amazed by what it can do. What gets me out of bed every morning is a combination of being surrounded by incredible people and building something that’s completely revolutionising an archaic retail sector for the better.

What larger applications of AI do you see happening in the next few years? Outside of an overhaul of the retail sector, I believe the most profound applications will be in transport and the medical field. The first will be autonomous long-haul trucking. The biggest problem with self-driving cars is the number of uncertain events that it needs to learn while driving through crowded city streets, trucking can avoid this due to being confined to highways and will be more palatable for regulators to approve. The next will be medical. Hardware and software are becoming more powerful and the ability for computers to aid doctors with better analysis of their patients will see both immediate impacts in preventative medicine and more accurate treatment plans.

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