Spotlight with Sameer Qureshi and His Passion for Disruption
by Frank Beard on
Sameer Qureshi recently joined the Standard AI team as our first-ever vice president of machine learning. We sat down with him to learn more about his perspective on the future of retail—and past projects at game-changing companies like Lyft and Tesla.
Why has retail become such a hot area for computer vision and machine learning?
Retail is one of those industries that has never truly been disrupted. I don’t mean the disruption of retail caused by eCommerce; rather, I mean the disruption of the retail shopping experience.
Technological advancements in this space that come to mind are things like payment methods, such as ApplePay and Square, inventory management, self-checkout kiosks, etc.
What Standard AI does is give buyers the freedom to walk in and out of a store without waiting in line for a checkout—a seamless and frictionless shopping experience enabled by computer vision and machine learning. Our focus is multifold, but it’s critical to provide a swift purchase experience without needing help from an in-store operator.
Not only can we impact people’s lives by giving them a seamless and frictionless shopping experience, but we can also leverage our technology to provide additional information to each retailer and enable them to improve the efficiency of the shopping experience.
Why did you decide to join Standard AI?
Too many reasons to count! The technology at work here strongly leverages my experience in autonomous vehicles. Self-driving vehicles rely heavily on cameras and machine learning techniques. At heart, I’m passionate about working on products that create value for millions of people in a meaningful way. And lastly—even though this is cliched—autonomous checkout is the future of retail. If we had retail in Star Trek, this is what it would look like!
What does the next year look like for our platform, in your opinion?
There’s value in making the buyer experience convenient and fast. With the pandemic, consumers are timing their in-store presence to be minutes—not hours. A lot of consumers have moved towards online shopping, but longer term, making retail shopping more convenient and more “fun” should help draw customers back into retail stores.
Having said that, our focus over the next year is going to be to scale the number of stores we are deployed in—and also to improve the Standard-powered shopping experience in our existing and new stores. We already have several projects in flight that will enable us to do this.
What was the first product you bought using autonomous checkout? How did it feel using it for the first time?
A few months ago, I walked around downtown San Francisco to experience four different autonomous checkout stores that I had been reading about. I think my very first purchase from the first store was a turkey sandwich for lunch. My next purchase at the next store was a Diet Coke.
It was an inspiring moment. To be part of this experience here and now during COVID-19 made me wonder why isn’t this an everyday option for most stores.
What’s your guilty-pleasure snack or beverage in convenience stores?
Diet Coke and anything that is considered a cheese snack!
What’s one of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on in the past?
There are several at Tesla, including Autopilot, but I’ll talk about the Falcon Doors on the Tesla Model X! Making those doors work required tremendous design and engineering—and keeping customer safety top of mind—not to mention an aggressive timeline with last minute changes to hardware. Once in your life, you get to work with the best minds solving a first of a kind hardware and software solution and then you get to share that beautiful handiwork with hundreds of family and friends. You test and demo till you drop. I will never forget what a privilege it was to get the doors on the Model X shipped with a talented team.