Can a robot help you buy your next computer?
On Aug. 31, Intel Mexico introduced a robotic store assistant, powered by Intel® NUC Mini PCs, an Intel® RealSense™ camera and the Intel® Distribution of OpenVINO™ toolkit. Robot wanders the shopping aisles of El Palacio de Hierro1 in Mexico City, one of the biggest high-end Mexican retail stores.
Nowadays, finding the ideal equipment might not be easy with in-store pandemic restrictions. However, this robotic partner makes the purchase process safe and easy. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and a profiling process, the Robot store assistant will help customers find the perfect PC powered by Intel’s processors that match their preferences.
Intel’s partnership with Octopy2 — a Mexican system integration company —brought this unique project to life.
“The heart and brain of Robot are powered by Intel technology” says Aarón Vudoyra Gracián, Intel field application engineer. Two Intel NUC Mini PCs and an Intel RealSense camera support a touch screen and an autonomous navigation system, allowing Robot to cruise the store playing multimedia and interacting with customers.
“One of the Intel NUC Mini PCs works along with the RealSense camera – and other types of ultrasonic sensors – to help Robot interpret space, perform movements and avoid obstacles,” explains Vudoyra Gracián. “The second NUC helps with the multimedia visualization and has recognition algorithms of artificial vision and natural language that allow Robot to identify what type of customer has approached for help and what products can be offered according to their needs.”
Robot communicates with customers of all ages through natural language. It can answer technical and informal questions, such as “What is the difference between a Celeron® processor and a Core™ i processor?” or “What is your name? Do you have any friends?”
Once the interaction has been established, Robot invites the customer to use the antibacterial-coated touch screen located in the middle of its body. The equipment selection starts with the profiling process to understand what the client wants. After the preferences have been determined and the equipment is selected, Robot will display on its screen the models available in the store, then will guide the user to the area where the equipment can be found.
Robot’s capability goes beyond helping customers with purchase decisions. If a user needs or prefers human help, Robot can connect them with a specialist through a remote communication app embedded in its system. Robot also returns significant data about the number of customer-robot interactions, user demographics, distance navigated, frequently asked questions and more.
“This is a result of the integration of new technologies and products available at Intel and what we are capable of doing. This Robot encompasses technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, autonomous navigation, Internet of Things and more. We are living in times where digitalization is leading us to automation and technology is closer to us than before,” says Socrates Huesca Gomez, Intel field applications engineer.
Intel sees this invention as a bridge for the interaction between in-store employees and customers. While reducing COVID-19 infection risk, Robot provides an interactive and safe purchase. This project met Intel’s purpose of driving innovation that makes the world safer, builds healthy and vibrant communities, and increases productivity.
For now, Robot will be available in one of the stores of El Palacio de Hierro to test the efficiency and success of the project. However, Intel is looking to expand and implement this invention to other high-end retail stores across Mexico.
1About El Palacio de Hierro: Founded in 1891 by Grupo Bal, El Palacio de Hierro is an upscale chain of department stores and is considered the mandatory reference of style and trends in Mexico. It has 14 stores: eight in Mexico City and the metropolitan area, also in Puebla, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Villahermosa, Querétaro and Veracruz, as well as Casa Palacio Antara and Santa Fe and La Boutique Palacio concept store in Acoxpa, Acapulco and Cancun. www.elpalaciodehierro.com
2 About Octopy: Octopy is a Mexican company specialized in the creation of service and industrial robots, as well as in technology, computer vision, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and voice analysis.