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  • Writer's pictureChad Weiss

Effortless Dining: 'Just Walk Out' Technology Transforms Campus Micromarkets

This autonomous market was designed for a small site offering cold and ambient items for college and university students and staff.

elite|studio e has had the opportunity to design Just Walk Out markets for college campuses across the country. They are flexible in size and offering, as well as offer a variety of convenience to students, staff and foodservice operators,.

Earlier this month, I stumbled on a piece of news stating that an increasing number of United States companies are eliminating college degrees as a requirement. While some sources say this is due to the out-of-control cost of colleges, Business Insider noted that companies like IBM, Google and Bank of America are doing it to widen their net and diversify their workforce. Either way, there’s definitely a decrease in college and university enrollment in the United States and that means there’s a decrease in campus funds.

“Revenue from on- and off-campus dining is a key concern as colleges and universities prepare for a dramatic drop in student enrollment,” according to a study commissioned by CBORD, a leading provider of technology solutions for higher education.

One of the ways that campuses are looking to tighten costs is by automating some aspects of campus life. Nearly 50% of colleges and universities have invested into some type of automation over the last two years.

Lumen Field in Seattle was one of the first NFL stadiums to incorporate Just Walk Out technology market.

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the concept of "Just Walk Out" has permeated various facets of our lives (have you been to an event at UBS Arena in Queens, NY, or Lumen Field in Seattle, WA?!). Over the past year, elite|studio e is seeing an increasing number of requests for autonomous micromarkets on college campuses. In this blog post, we'll explore how "Just Walk Out" technology is revolutionizing the way students and staff access and enjoy snacks, beverages, and quick meals on campus. Pictured above is Lumen Field's first Just Walk Out market. Since opening, several others have opened onsite.

Traditional micromarkets, often found in campus buildings, student centers, or residence halls, typically involve grabbing items, scanning barcodes, and waiting in line to check out. "Just Walk Out" technology, powered by a combination of cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence, is redefining this process. Imagine walking into your campus micromarket, selecting your items, and simply walking out. No need to scan each product or wait in line at a cashier. This frictionless shopping experience is now a reality on many forward-thinking campuses.

How 'Just Walk Out' Technology Works Enhanced Convenience The primary benefit of "Just Walk Out" technology in campus micromarkets is the convenience it offers. Students and staff can quickly grab a snack or meal without the need to go through the checkout process, making it a time-saving solution for busy individuals.

Increased Efficiency This technology also streamlines the operation of micromarkets. It can provide real-time inventory data, helping campus operators restock items more efficiently. Additionally, the reduction of cashier work can lead to cost savings and the redeployment of staff to other essential tasks.

As a result of increased efficiencies, Loyola University, which recently became the first Maryland-based college to open a store with Just Walk Out technology, is operating Bowman Express with extended hours, both staffed as usual and even partially unattended.

Addressing Dietary Preferences For individuals with specific dietary preferences or restrictions, this technology can be a game-changer. It allows for easy access to detailed product information, including ingredient lists and nutritional facts, helping students and staff make informed choices about their purchases.

Flexibility As with many of our projects, elite|studio e sees a need for flexibility in the design and construction of these micromarkets. We’ve created scalable designs for Just Walk Out sites that can work within an existing footprint. Our team can also find out what food works for your population and vary the equipment – if the micromarket is located in the campus stadium ambient and cold drinks may only be desired, but if it’s located in the student union heated units offering grab & go dinners for commuter students can be incorporated.

Technology Requirements As with any technology that collects personal data and payment information, data security and privacy are essential considerations. Campuses must implement robust security measures and privacy policies to safeguard user information.

This rendering illustrates the concept for a large autonomous market on a college campus. The number of cameras on the ceiling are required to make the technology successful.

The rendering above illustrates a mediums size market. On top you can see the numerous cameras necessary.

There’s actually a required amount of space for an equipment closet when designing Just Walk Out micromarkets. I’m certainly oversimplifying this, but there are a lot of cameras, Wi-Fi, scanners and other necessary technologies involved in making it a successful concept. "Just Walk Out" technology is transforming campus micromarkets into more convenient, efficient, and enjoyable spaces for students and staff. The ability to shop seamlessly without waiting in line or dealing with traditional checkout processes is a significant advancement in campus convenience. As universities continue to embrace this technology, it's likely that more micromarkets on campuses worldwide will adopt this cutting-edge approach, offering a more frictionless and delightful shopping experience to their campus communities.

Would you like to see a market using Just Walk Out technology on your college or university campus?

  • Absolutely!

  • It might be nice.

  • No thanks.


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