The key to Amazon's line-less retail strategy is low-cost cameras and sensors and exceptional cloud computing power to interpret the data in real time. The strategy may have been inspired by driverless car technology.
Many in the industry had thought something like this would happen through the use of tiny RFID, or radio-frequency ID, tags. These send out a constant “I am here!” message, allowing the system to track whatever they’re attached to. “They’ve come down in price, they’re now only about five cents each. But it’s still pretty labor intensive to RFID tag everything,” said Witcher. It's been suggested for years. In fact, IBM released an ad about a store where you just picked things up and walked out back in 2006, he said. But looking at the patent, it seems as if Amazon’s found a less expensive, more technologically intensive, way to make that work.