When Amazon debuted its new, futuristic grocery store on Monday, it may have looked a little familiar if you were paying attention in the mid-2000s.
That’s because IBM predicted nearly the exact same setup — a grocery store with no registers, no cashiers, and no checkout lines — in a TV commercial that aired more than a decade ago.
Titled “The Future Market,” IBM’s ad depicts how supermarkets could evolve with the use of radio-frequency identification, or RFID. In the ad, a man takes products off the shelf, stuffing them in his overcoat and leaving the store, seemingly without paying. The ad makes you think this guy is a stereotypical shoplifter, but in reality, the store was able to identify what he’d grabbed from the shelves and printed out a receipt for him anyway.
Watch the ad for yourself:
The ad looks eerily similar to what Amazon just launched.
Amazon Go is similarly designed so the store automatically knows which products shoppers have taken from their shelves, adding those products to a digital shopping cart, and knows when they have left the store. Amazon’s machine-learning technology can identify the products, so you don’t have to manually add them to your account, and once you leave the store, Amazon automatically charges the credit card it has on file in your Amazon account.
While IBM’s depiction of how this would work is decidedly creepier than Amazon’s cheerful video of a woman who just can’t decide if she wants a cheesecake cupcake or not, the idea is almost identical — although IBM forgot to innovate on the idea the paper receipt, but we’ll forgive them since the iPhone hadn’t been introduced yet.
We’ll have to wait next year to see how Go pans out for Amazon — the first store will open to the public in Seattle next year — but one thing is for sure: IBM was ahead of the curve.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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