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09/16/2021

Autonomous ‘Express Shop’ pop-up comes to music festivals

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival featured the autonomous Express Shop.

Verizon’s mobile edge computing (MEC) platform is the foundation of temporary “tap and go” stores being offered at musical events including BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival.

Known as Express Shop, the frictionless pop-up store runs on the Verizon MEC platform and 5G network, along with the AiFi computer vision- and artificial intelligence (AI)- based autonomous shopping solution. Customers enter by tapping a credit card at the entrance. Once inside the store, AiFi’s computer vision-powered cameras track what items are taken and customers can exit, with receipts delivered to their email in minutes.

This is the first autonomous store running on the Verizon MEC platform. By bringing the cloud and storage to the edge of Verizon’s 5G network, the computer vision tracking data can be processed on the edge cloud, reducing the latency, upfront hardware costs, and the ongoing maintenance that comes with deploying heavy computing power on-premise.

Express Shop debuted at the BottleRock Napa Valley festival held Sep. 3-5, 2021.
Over 1,000 event attendees, staff and artists were able to purchase an assortment of snacks, beverages, and merchandise. Express Shop also prepared a unique planogram tailored for attendees, including event t-shirts and a variety of merchandise.

The AiFi/Verizon-enabled Express Shop autonomous pop-up store will also be available for consumers attending the Sea.Hear.Now festival being held Sep. 18-19 in Asbury Park, N.J., as well as the Governor’s Ball festival being held Sep. 24-25 in New York, N.Y.

Previously, AiFi and Verizon launched a similar, computer vision-enabled “NanoStore” designed to speed up the process of purchasing snacks, beverages and merchandise at the May 2021 Indianapolis 500 auto race. The customizable, portable pop-up store used AiFi computer vision technology and the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network to offer a “just walk out” shopping experience.

During the main Indy 500 event as well as several preliminary events in the days leading up to it, customers could enter the NanoStore by scanning the Indy Express Shop app. Once scanned, the computer vision technology around the store observed and tracked the items that customers chose. When customers finished their shopping, they were able to walk out and then received a receipt to their app or email within minutes. AiFi says its computer vision technology has achieved an accuracy rate of 99%, without using facial recognition or storing any biometric data.

AiFi’s NanoStore model is also being used in several permanently standing brick-and-mortar stores. These include two Bay Area locations of the Loop Neighborhood regional convenience store chain, as well as select stores of Colorado-based grocery retailer Choice Market and in a two-month pilot at an Albert Heijn (Ahold Delhaize banner) store at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

“With music festivals coming back to life, it is a great opportunity to reimagine the shopping experience. We are proud to enable a frictionless, contactless experience at BottleRock Napa Valley and more events coming up.” said Steve Gu, founder and CEO at AiFi.