AutoBill – AI Powered Instant Checkout

AutoBill is an AI-powered autonomous checkout system for retail stores, that combines the power of computer vision and machine learning to provide an amazing shopping experience. AutoBill provides a faster checkout shopping experience to minimize human interactions in the store to keep shoppers and employees safer during the pandemic. AutoBill uses computer vision and machine learning to visually detect and instantly identify the items placed and the weight sensor measure the weights of the things placed on the counter-top. Once the items are identified, things are automatically added to the cart and the bill is generated instantaneously. QR code for payment is generated and users can pay the bill by scanning the QR code.

Step 1: Electronic Components

These are the major electronic components required for building this project. Raspberry Pi 3B is the brain of this device. Here is a list including links to where you can find them.

Step 2: Preparing Wood

For making the cabinetry of the system, we have used 15mm thick plywood sheets. We have Cut it down with a circular saw as per the above dimensions.

Sanding is done to create an even surface and enhance the look of wood. It can take time to do a good job of sanding, but every project benefits from sanding. So we are started with fine grits and endeded with very fine grits.

Step 3: Making Necessary Holes

We need to attach the load cell to the center of the base. For this, we marked the positions accordingly and drilled three holes, two of them connecting the load cell and the other for taking out connections from the load cell. Also, we made a thin slit for taking the led connections wires and camera cable to the Raspberry Pi by drilling consecutive three holes.

Step 4: Cabinetting

For making the cabinet, we connected all the plywood parts using normal wood screws. Old layers of paint are are still visible in the cabinet, so let's cover them up with some new paints.

Step 5: Painting Cabinets

Firstly we primed the surfaces with two coats of normal wood primer sanding well between each coat. A primer preps the painting surface and seals any stains so that the paint adheres well, and you'll get the smoothest, cleanest finish possible.

Finally, we applied white satin finish paint for getting an elegant look for the cabinet. Also, we attached four bushes to the cabinet.

Step 6: Weight Sensor(Load Cell)

Here we use the Load cell to measure the weight of the objects. The load cell is a sensor or a transducer that converts a load or force acting on it into an electronic signal. This electronic signal can be a voltage change, current change, or frequency change depending on the type of load cell and circuitry used. There are many different kinds of load cells.

The load cell we are using is a Resistive one. Resistive load cells work on the principle of piezo-resistivity. When a load/force/stress is applied to the sensor, it changes its resistance. This change in resistance leads to a change in output voltage when an input voltage is applied. The resistive load cell is made by using an elastic member (with a very highly repeatable deflection pattern) to which a number of strain gauges are attached.

Here we are using a load cell which is having four strain gauges that are bonded to the upper and lower surfaces of the load cell. When the load is applied to the body of a resistive load cell, as shown above, the elastic member, deflects as shown and creates a strain at those locations due to the stress applied. As a result, two of the strain gauges are in compression, whereas the other two are in tension.

During a measurement, the weight acts on the load cell’s metal spring element and causeselastic deformation. This strain (positive or negative) is converted into an electrical signal by a strain gauge (SG) installed on the spring element. The simplest type of load cell is a bending beam with a strain gauge. We use the Wheatstone bridge circuit to convert this change in strain/resistance into a voltage that is proportional to the load.

The four strain gauges are configured in a Wheatstone Bridge configuration with four separate resistors connected as shown in what is called a Wheatstone Bridge Network. An excitation voltage – usually 5V is applied to one set of corners and the voltage difference is measured between the other two corners. At equilibrium with no applied load, the voltage output is zero or very close to zero when the four resistors are closely matched in value. That is why it is referred to as a balanced bridge circuit.

When the metallic member to which the strain gauges are attached, is stressed by the application of a force, the resulting strain – leads to a change in resistance in one (or more) of the resistors. This change in resistance results in a change in output voltage. This small change in output voltage (usually about 20 mv of the total change in response to full load) can be measured and digitized after careful amplification of the small milli-volt level signals to a higher amplitude 0-5V signal.

Step 7: HX711 Breakout Board

The HX711 module is a Load Cell Amplifier breakout board that allows you to easily read load cells to measure weight. This module uses 24 high-precision A/D converter chips HX711. It is specially designed for the high precision electronic scale design, with two analog input channels, the internal integration of 128 times the programmable gain amplifier. The input circuit can be configured to provide a bridge type pressure bridge (such as pressure, weighing sensor mode), is of high precision, low cost is an ideal sampling front-end module. HX711 is an IC that allows you to easily integrate load cells into your project. No need for any amplifiers or dual power supply just use this board and you can easily interface it to any micro-controller to measure weight. The HX711 uses a two-wire interface (Clock and Data) for communication. Compared with other chips, HX711 has added advantages such as high integration, fast response, immunity, and other features improving the total performance and reliability. Finally, it's one of the best choices for electronic enthusiasts. The chip lowers the cost of the electronic scale,at the same time,improving performance and reliability. Its specifications are

  • Differential input voltage: ±40mV (Full-scale differential input voltage is ± 40mV)
  • Data accuracy: 24 bit (24 bit A / D converter chip.)
  • Refresh frequency: 10/80 Hz
  • Operating Voltage: 2.7V to 5VDC
  • Operating current: <10 mA
  • Size: 24x16mm

Step 8: Fixing Load Cell

Initially, we attached the load cell to the base of the cabinet with the help of Nuts, bolts, and washers. One end of the load cell should be rigidly connected and another end should be floated in the air, then only we get the proper weight of the object. Then we wired the load cell to the HX711 break-out module by installing it. Then we pulled out the wire from the HX711 module through a hole nearby it.

Step 9: Camera Module

Here I am using the REES52 5 Megapixel 160° degrees Wide Angle Fish-Eye Camera, for object detection. Due to its high viewing angle, it can cover more area than the normal camera module. The main feature of this camera module is

  • Omnivision 5647 sensor in a fixed-focus module.
  • The module attaches to Raspberry Pi, by way of a 15 Pin Ribbon Cable, to the dedicated 15-pin MIPI Camera Serial Interface (CSI).
  • The CSI bus is capable of extremely high data rates, and it exclusively carries pixel data to the BCM2835 processor.
  • The sensor itself has a native resolution of 5 megapixels and has a fixed focus lens onboard.
  • The camera supports 1080 p @ 30 fps, 720 p @ 60 fps, and 640 x480 p 60/90 video recording also is supported in the latest version of Raspbian, the Raspberry Pi's preferred operating system.

    For connecting the camera module to the Raspberry pi, we have used 18” flex cable. There is considerable distance between the Raspberry Pi and the camera module.

Step 10: WS2812B RGB LED Strip

The WS2812B 5V Addressable RGB Waterproof LED Strip is extremely flexible, easy to use and each LED of the strip can be controlled separately by using a microcontroller. Each LED has been equipped with an integrated driver that allows you to control the color and brightness of each LED independently. To light up the commodities in the system we have used this RGB led Strip. The combined LED/driver IC on these strips is the extremely compact WS2812B (essentially an improved WS2811 LED driver integrated directly into a 5050 RGB LED), which enables higher LED densities. WS2812B uses a specialized one-wire control interface and requires strict timing.

Step 11: Securing Camera Module and Led Strip

On the top side, we attached the camera module and we also attached the led strip in parallel to the camera module. The camera and led cables are pulled out through the slit, we made before.


The Raspberry Pi 3B is the powerful development of the extremely successful credit card-sized computer system. The brain of the device is Raspberry Pi. All major processes are carried out by this device.

Step 13: Enclosure & Counter Top

For placing the Raspberry pi we have used a white painted black box. It is then screwed to the cabinet. We have also made necessary holes on the white box for connecting components with the Raspberry pi. Firstly we attached the DC power jack to the box. Then we attached the Raspberry pi and wired the whole components as per the schematics.

We have used a 3mm white acrylic sheet as the countertop and we attached it to the load cell. So the hardware is complete. As the display unit, we have used an old Samsung tablet.

Step 14: Object Detection

For object detection, we have used the Edge Impulse platform. It is one of the leading development platforms for machine learning on edge devices, free for developers and trusted by enterprises. Here we are using machine learning to build a system that can recognize the products available in the shops. Then we deploy the system on the Raspberry Pi 3B.

Step 15: Data Acquisition & Labelling

To make the machine learning model it's important to have a lot of images of the products. When training the model, these product images are used to let the model distinguish between them. Make sure you have a wide variety of angles and zoom levels of the products which are available in the shops. For the data acquisition, you can capture data from any device or development board, or upload your existing datasets. So here we are uploading our existing datasets.

For uploading, just move on to the Data acquisition tab and just choose a file. Then label it and upload it to the training section. The Edge Impulse will only accept either JPG or PNG image files. If you have any other format, just convert it to JPG or PNG format with the online converters. So we uploaded all the data with the four different labels such as Apple Lays, and Coke. So the system will only identify these objects when checking out. If you want to recognize any other objects other than these you need to upload the dataset of them. Here we uploaded around 40 images for each object. Neural networks need to learn patterns in data sets, and the more data the better.

The labeling queue shows you all the unlabeled data in your dataset. Labeling objects is as easy as dragging a box around the object and entering a label. To make life a bit easier we try to automate this process by running an object tracking algorithm in the background. If you have the same object in multiple photos we thus can move the boxes for you and you just need to confirm the new box. After dragging the boxes, click Save labels and repeat this until your whole dataset is labeled.

Step 16: Designing an Impulse

With the training set in place, you can design an impulse. An impulse takes the raw data, adjusts the image size, uses a preprocessing block to manipulate the image, and then uses a learning block to classify new data. Preprocessing blocks always return the same values for the same input (e.g. convert a color image into a grayscale one), while learning blocks learn from past experiences. For this system, we'll use the ‘Images' preprocessing block. This block takes in the color image, optionally makes the image grayscale, and then turns the data into a features array. Then we'll use a ‘Transfer Learning' learning block, which takes all the images in and learns to distinguish between the two (‘coffee', ‘lamp') classes. In the studio go to Create impulse, set the image width and image height to 96, the ‘resize mode' to Fit shortest axis, and add the ‘Images' and ‘Object Detection (Images)' blocks. Then click Save impulse. Then in the image tab, you can see the raw and processed features of every image. You can use the options to switch between ‘RGB' and ‘Grayscale' mode, but for now, leave the color depth on ‘RGB' and click Save parameters.

This will send you to the Feature generation screen. In here you'll:

  • Resize all the data.
  • Apply the processing block on all this data.
  • Create a 3D visualization of your complete dataset.

Click Generate features to start the process. Afterward the ‘Feature explorer' will load. This is a plot of all the data in your dataset. Because images have a lot of dimensions (here: 96x96x3=27648 features) we run a process called ‘dimensionality reduction on the dataset before visualizing this. Here the 27648 features are compressed down to just 3 and then clustered based on similarity. Even though we have little data you can already see the clusters forming and can click on the dots to see which image belongs to which dot.

With all data processed it's time to start training a neural network. Neural networks are a set of algorithms, modeled loosely after the human brain, that is designed to recognize patterns. The network that we're training here will take the image data as an input, and try to map this to one of the three classes. It's very hard to build a good working computer vision model from scratch, as you need a wide variety of input data to make the model generalize well, and training such models can take days on a GPU. To make this easier and faster we are using transfer learning. This lets you piggyback on a well-trained model, only retraining the upper layers of a neural network, leading to much more reliable models that train in a fraction of the time and work with substantially smaller datasets. To configure the transfer learning model, click Object detection in the menu on the left. Here you can select the base model (the one selected by default will work, but you can change this based on your size requirements), and set the rate at which the network learns. Leave all settings as-it is, and click Start training. After the model is done you'll see accuracy numbers below the training output. We have now trained our model.

With the model trained let's try it out on some test data. When collecting the data we split the data up between training and a testing dataset. The model was trained only on the training data, and thus we can use the data in the testing dataset to validate how well the model will work in the real world. This will help us ensure the model has not learned to overfit the training data, which is a common occurrence. To validate your model, go to Model testing and select Classify all. Here we hit 93.75% precision, which is great for a model with so little data. To see classification in detail, click the three dots next to an item, and select Show classification. This brings you to the Live classification screen with much more details on the file (you can also capture new data directly from your development board from here). This screen can help you determine why items were misclassified. With the impulse designed, trained, and verified you can deploy this model back to your device. This makes the model run without an internet connection, minimizes latency, and runs with minimum power consumption. Edge Impulse can package up the complete impulse – including the preprocessing steps, neural network weights, and classification code – in a single C++ library or model file that you can include in your embedded software.

Step 17: Deploying Model

To set this device up in Edge Impulse,we need to ran the following command.

curl -sL | sudo bash –
sudo apt install -y gcc g++ make build-essential nodejs sox gstreamer1.0-tools gstreamer1.0-plugins-good gstreamer1.0-plugins-base gstreamer1.0-plugins-base-apps npm config set user root && sudo npm install edge-impulse-linux -g –unsafe-perm

For setting the camera module, we need to execute following command

sudo raspi-config

Use the cursor keys to select and open Interfacing Options, and then select Camera and follow the prompt to enable the camera. Then reboot the Raspberry. With all software set up, connect your camera to Raspberry Pi and run.


This will start a wizard which will ask you to log in and choose an Edge Impulse project. If you want to switch projects run the command with –clean. That's all! Your device is now connected to Edge Impulse. To verify this, go to your Edge Impulse project, and click Devices. The device will be listed there.

To run your impulse locally, just connect to your Raspberry Pi again, and run.


This will automatically compile your model with full hardware acceleration, download the model to your Raspberry Pi, and then start classifying.Here we are using the Linux Python SDK for integrating the model with the system. For working with the Python SDK you need to have a recent version of the Python(>=3.7) For installing the SDK for the Raspberry pi, you need to run the following commands.

sudo apt-get install libatlas-base-dev libportaudio0 libportaudio2 libportaudiocpp0 portaudio19-dev
pip3 install edge_impulse_linux -i

To classify data, you'll need a model file.We have already trained our model. This model file contains all signal processing code, classical ML algorithms, and neural networks – and typically contains hardware optimizations to run as fast as possible. To download the model file run the below command.

edge-impulse-linux-runner –download modelfile.eim

Step 18: Calibrating Load Cell

There are three main reasons for having instruments calibrated:

  • To ensure readings from an instrument are consistent with other measurements.
  • To determine the accuracy of the instrument readings.
  • To establish the reliability of the instrument i.e. that it can be trusted.

For calibration, Connect the load cell, HX711 module to the Raspberry pi as per the schematics and run the code in raspberry pi. Then you will get the ratio of your own load cell and just put in it your main code. Each load cell ratio would be different on different occasions. The above image will show ours calibration process. Here we used Coke as reference weight.

So weighing with my load cell is 90 % accurate. For connecting the load cell with the raspberry pi using the HX711, I have used the pieces of code by Marcel Zak.

Step 19: Checkout Interface

The checkout interface has two parts,

1. Front-end developed using HTML, JS

2. Backend API developed using NodeJS and Express

1. Front-end developed using HTML, JS
The front-end continuously checks for the changes happening in the back-end API and displays the changes to the user. Once an item is added to the API, the front-end displays as an item added to the cart.

2. Backend API developed using NodeJS and Express
The backend REST API is developed using NodeJS and Express. ExpressJS is one of the most popular HTTP server libraries for Node.js, which ships with very basic functionalities. The backend API keeps the details of the products that are visually identified. For setting our interface we have used a small tablet which is having a touch interface with a small stand.

Step 20: Code

About The Author

Muhammad Bilal

I am highly skilled and motivated individual with a Master's degree in Computer Science. I have extensive experience in technical writing and a deep understanding of SEO practices.

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