The hidden Woolworths checkout feature you might not know about

·2-min read

A hidden camera inside self-serve scanners at Woolworths is recording what groceries shoppers are bagging themselves, with two purposes.

The surprising feature was rolled out alongside overhead cameras last year as part of a major upgrade of the retail giant's assisted checkouts.

Self-serve checkout scanner at Woolworths
Woolworths has confirmed a second camera has been installed in self-serve scanners across the country to identify products. Source: Woolworths

Hidden camera speeds up produce scanning

A spokesperson for Woolworths told Yahoo News the second camera in the scanner is partly designed to make shopping for fresh produce easier and faster.

"As we progressively upgrade our assisted checkouts, we have access to new technology, which helps customers find loose fruit and veg items in the system faster," the spokesperson said.

Image recognition technology records what is going through the till and quickly filters the list of possible products based on their colour, shape and size.

"So if a customer places a loose tomato on the scanner, the system will show a range of tomato varieties rather than the full list of fruit and veg items," the spokesperson explained.

A filtered fruit and veg menu at Woolworths self-serve checkout
The Woolworths scanner records what is going through the till and filters the list of possible products based on their colour, shape and size. Source: Woolworths

"This makes our self-serve that little bit faster and improves the accuracy of product selection for customers."

Technology also targets thieves

The technology also tackles theft by stopping customers from entering a cheaper product when weighing produce at the checkout.

Additionally, everything inside the customer's grocery bag is being caught on camera.

The AI occasionally can't recognise what the item is and will alert Woolies staff so they can check and verify it, revealing an image of the inside of the customer's bag on the screen when this occurs.

The new details come as other major retailers such as Kmart and Bunnings face backlash over the use of facial recognition cameras in stores over privacy concerns.

Woolworths also received criticism when the overhead cameras recording the movement of shoppers were first spotted.

At the time, a Woolies representative told Yahoo News the technology was being used to reduce self-checkout scanning errors, with all faces and keypads blurred.

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