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Microsoft follows Amazon in pursuit of cashier-less stores

Tech giant is one of many trying to build stores of the future

Microsoft is working on automated checkout technology that could help retailers compete with Amazon's new cashier-less stores.

One firm building automated checkout systems, Ava Retail, said Thursday it was working with Microsoft on the technology for physical stores. Both companies have headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

READ: Real-time feedback helps Amazon Go stock its shelves

Ava Retail CEO Atul Hirpara said Microsoft could become a leader in the field because it has a strong cloud computing platform. That technology would power the retail system by pulling in data from in-store cameras or sensors.

Microsoft declined comment Thursday.

Amazon opened its first cashier-less Amazon Go store in Seattle this year with more locations in Chicago and San Francisco in the works. Overhead cameras and other technology help keep track of customers and what they're buying.

READ: Ready, set, shop! Amazon Go times consumers’ shopping trips

Microsoft's interest in working with retailers on similar technology was reported earlier by Reuters. It remains unclear how far along Microsoft is in the project. The report of its involvement didn't surprise others in the fast-growing automated checkout industry.

Michael Suswal, co-founder of San Francisco-based startup Standard Cognition, said Microsoft had the teams capable of developing the software and the infrastructure needed to deploy it broadly.

READ: Could Amazon’s robots revolutionize grocery?

Suswal said his firm was also working with retailers--but not currently with Microsoft--on its own automated checkout system using overhead cameras.

"Within five years, everyone in the country will have visited an autonomous checkout store," Suswal said.

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