Focal Systems Taps Former Walmart Chief Scientist to Drive Automation at Retail

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Focal Systems, maker of a shelf camera-based automated inventory solution, has hired Donald High, former Walmart chief scientist, as its new technology strategist, with a goal of further driving automation at brick-and-mortar retail.

High was with Walmart from 2008 to 2019, according to a LinkedIn profile, and became the chief innovation officer for Ashley Furniture upon leaving the Bentonville, Ark.-based big box retailer. High holds more than 150 technology patents, and was reportedly named as an inventor on a blockchain-based drone communication system for Walmart.

“Don brings a wealth of experience and an analytical approach that will help us continue to innovate to best serve our retail customers,” said Francois Chaubard, CEO of Burlingame, Calif.-based Focal Systems, in a release. “We are thrilled to have him join the team and contribute to our product roadmap and overall company strategy.”

Focal Systems’ shelf-mounted cameras, which were being tested in about 50 Wakefern stores in 2019, can provide real-time insight into on-shelf product availability, helping retailers automate and optimize product availability and make merchandising decisions. The solution can process more than 10 million shelf-scan images every day, the company said.

“I’ve spent the past 15 years in the retail industry evaluating technology solutions to solve the out-of-stock problem,” High said in a release. “With [Focal’s] practical, cutting edge technology in place, retailers unlock significant opportunities to reduce operational costs and increase sales through higher on-shelf availability.”



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