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Intel demos retail robot

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Tally is part of new retail platform.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage at the National Retail Federation’s biggest show of the year to demonstrate a robot called “Tally,” which Intel calls “the world’s first robotic autonomous shelf auditing and analytics solution for retail.” Tally is meant to inform retail employees about where shelves need to be stocked and how products should be priced.

The Tally robot can maneuver through stores alongside retail employees, Intel said, and is powered by a small personal computer running Intel’s i7 processor and is what Intel calls the next unit of computing. The robot uses a number of Intel RealSense cameras to interpret information in its environment and interact safely with employees.

Intel foresees a time when robots will take on many of the logistical tasks currently performed by humans, allowing retail employees to be more fully focused on the customer experience. But the company is not promoting lower head counts as a major benefit of smart stores. Data collection is the big opportunity for retailers, Krzanich said.

“The retail platform collects multiple data streams to connect digital and physical environments,” Krzanich said. “With the goals of lowering costs and increasing sales, the platform helps optimally place inventory, deploy employees and other resources and track inventory – through the supply chain to the store door. It provides in-the-moment information about what customers are buying, what they want and how to manage inventory so it arrives just in time for customers to take it home.”

Intel announced a new retail platform it hopes will ultimately make shopper data as available to brick-and-mortar stores as it is to online retailers. Krzanich said the company wants to make shopping more personal and efficient by integrating retail hardware, software, application programming interfaces and sensors in a standardized way.

The company said it also plans to invest more than $100 million over the next five years in the retail industry, with the goal of enabling retailers to unify every part of the retail operation.

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