‘I got a beer in 8 seconds’: Testing Amazon’s cashierless tech at an NHL game inside Climate Pledge Arena

Grabbing a bite or a drink at a Seattle sporting event without waiting in line is now a reality.

Amazon’s cashierless technology made its debut this week inside the new Climate Pledge Arena.

We had a chance to test the technology on Saturday during the Seattle Kraken home opener, and it worked flawlessly. Other fans found it equally easy and convenient.

“It’s fantastic, there is no queue,” said one fan. “I have a beer in eight seconds.”

Four food and beverage stores within the stadium are equipped with “Just Walk Out” technology that uses cameras and sensors to track customers and eliminates the need for human cashiers. It’s the same experience found at Amazon Go convenience stores (there are now 20 in four US cities) and the company’s newest Fresh grocery stores. Amazon will also bring Just Walk Out to two Whole Foods stores starting next year.

The stores in the arena also feature Amazon One palm scanning technology, allowing customers to enter and pay with a wave of their hand. Fans can sign up for Amazon One, we did, and the process took less than a minute, or just use their credit card to log in.

Two of the stores sell alcohol; an attendant checks the badges at the entrance. Stores include 14 Hands of Chateau Saint Michelle; Seattle’s Lil Woody’s Burgers; Big Chicken, a franchise of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal; and a Starbucks take out place. Lil Woody’s and Big Chicken prepare food on the spot for pick up and take out.

The Starbucks location is particularly interesting given recent reports that Starbucks and Amazon have discussed creating a new style of coffee shop with Just Walk Out technology. Co-branded stores would reportedly allow people to purchase drinks, baked goods, and hot foods without going through a traditional checkout.

Amazon last year started selling Just Walk Out technology to third-party retailers, who caused United Food and Commercial Workers Union to raise concerns about the threat of retail worker jobs and discrimination against households with insufficient access to banking.

The Starbucks store in the Climate Pledge did not offer Starbucks food, but traditional stadium food and beverages, such as beer, soda, candy, potato chips and more. Cold Starbucks brand beverages were also available.

Using technology to speed up purchases and avoid long lines is a key part of the technology-enhanced experience that representatives from Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena have been promising for years at the remodeled KeyArena site.

Tim leiwekeCEO of Oak View Group, which led the arena redevelopment project, told GeekWire in 2017 that he wanted to integrate Amazon Go technology into the fan experience.

That vision has come true. But Lewicke also said at the time that drones could help people get into the game as a transportation solution.

We met Leiweke on the esplanade before Saturday’s game and asked him about the drones. “It’s coming,” he said. “Is coming.”

That remains to be seen. For now, Climate Pledge Arena, along with the TD Garden in Boston, is pushing the limits of the fan experience with cashierless technology.

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