Home Depot Testing Part Finder Search Kiosks

January 31, 2020 by Dave Haynes

Home Depot is piloting interesting technology that bridges a scanner, screen and presumably AI-based visual search algorithms to enable home DIY types to identify parts and locate replacements in the giant hardware store.

The part-finder kiosk scans, identifies and then shows via the screen where the product can be found in that store. The kiosk is being tested at a Home Depot in Philadelphia, and it was demo’d at the recent NRF retail trade show in New York.

The tech is from a company called Slyce, which is primarily focused on smartphone-based visual search – the sort of thing that would allow consumers to point their phone camera at a product and have an app ID what it is and where/how to buy it.

The company told Technical.ly Philly that it spent about a year working on the kiosk. Some 5,000 SKUs were, at first, manually entered into the platform by Slyce staffers. Now there is a training mode that allows a Home Depot staffer to add SKUs on site.

The post suggests there are four kiosks in operation for Home Depot, and that NAPA Auto Parts also has plans for the units.

The company has a head office in Philly but it appears the tech hub is, somewhat unexpectedly, in the little coastal town of New Waterford, Nova Scotia, at the very, very northern tip of stunning Cape Breton.  That’s about 4.5 hours drive up the road from me, in Halifax.

Great example of how, with the cloud, a company can grow just about anywhere.

I like this, because of its problem-solving intent. I have to assume AI and machine learning sort out things like dimension, and sensors can not only do length but also figure out if it is a Robertson (all screw heads should be Robertson) or the dreaded standard/slotted screw head. In retail, many things have bar codes – but it’s hard to get one on a 1.5 inch bolt.

  1. Pat Stimpson says:

    Good luck to them.
    The challenge will be acceptance by customers – the human element.
    Requests to locate products (particularly at Home Depot) often lead to advice and alternative suggestions/education from their staff. Undoubtedly, the pitch for this product involves a promised benefit of “reduced employee costs”. Bad concept.

    Ask those in the Casino industry about the failure of digital directional signs in their lobbies – failed miserably as customers preferred talking to a person. Pilot programs ended up having employees stationed by the maps to instruct/interact with customers.

    Perhaps this approach may be more accepted by millennials?

  2. Pat says:

    An old fella perhaps. But obviously digitally inclined and curious. Me too.

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