Standard Cognition: how Computer Vision and AI are about to transform retail

When you imagine a Jetsons-like version of the future — filled with robot assistants and flying cars — what’s remarkable is that, increasingly, that faraway future is already here.

Retail is a prime example. Picture walking into a store, taking something from the shelf, and walking out — payment complete but no checkout needed. Think of all the complexity that goes with that — picking up an item, placing it into your basket, putting something else back. This is the new standard for our shopping experience.

Standard Cognition announced this week that it’s raised $150 million from Softbank Vision and TI Platform, making it the first unicorn in autonomous checkout. At EQT Ventures, we were tremendously proud to continue to support the team, after leading the Series B when we made a huge bet on this incredible team and technology. With deep experience in retail and AI, we’d been looking for the transformational bet in the space for a long time. In fact, it was our own AI — Motherbrain — which helped us find it!

It’s no secret that nobody likes queuing, especially during a pandemic, hence the proliferation of online shopping. All generations have become accustomed to ordering groceries to be delivered at home while self-isolating or under lockdown. However, grocery shopping is going to remain a physical experience for many years to come — whether that be due to convenience, geographical restrictions, or product categories for which delivery doesn’t work.

Consisting of ceiling-mounted cameras that detect which items a customer picks up, Standard doesn’t compromise on privacy, shunning facial recognition so shoppers remain completely anonymous. It can be easily installed in existing stores without changing the layout, shelving, lighting, or inventory management processes.

Anyone who’s worked in retail knows how complex and messy these systems can be, so Standard has built not just an incredible set of technologies but ones that work in the real world. And with multiple stores now live, and a rapid expansion to 100 this year and thousands the year after, the tipping point to scale has been reached.

On the day of the announcement, we were delighted to join the Standard team’s Clubhouse session in the #HoneybadgerDen: Computer Vision Goes Primetime, From Cars to Your Neighborhood Grocery Store. The crowd was unanimous in the belief that, over the next decade, when people look back and remember their first experience with computer vision, it’ll be from Standard’s checkout products.

Ultimately, retail is just the beginning — the first foray here in bringing computer vision to many other experiences in the physical world. There is so much more to come. As Jordan said in the Clubhouse session, Standard doesn’t just want to be the retail computer vision company; it wants to be THE Vision Company.

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