How the retail industry can use Augmented Reality
In its simplest explanation, Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that you can use to map virtual elements on to the physical world. The process starts by the Augmented Reality application recognizing the object through a camera or specified GPS coordinates. This object can be your face, a piece of paper, or a specific location (in terms of GPS coordinates). Once the application recognizes the object, it figures out what needs to be displayed and then displays it on your output device, however you want it.
What that means for you – the retailer is that when you view the world on a TV screen, a monitor or your phones camera, you can view virtual objects and markers that aren’t really there. Kind of like the Terminator movies in which Arnold was able to identify pretty much everything that came in front of him. You can go back in time by checking out this link
So how can this technology be used to your advantage? Let me paint you a picture by telling you about Jane – a potential customer whose walking by your shop.
Advertising special offers and discounts
Jane is using her smart phone to scope out the mall. Her smart phone has an AR enabled application that allows her to see details about any shop she points her phone towards. She points in the direction of your store and immediately she sees an information pop-up that tells her about the fantastic promotion you are having on lipsticks and jeans. Jane has never been the one to let go of such a sweet deal. And now that you’ve caught her eye, she walks straight into your shop
Getting Product Details
As soon as she walks in, Jane starts eyeing out stuff she wants to buy. She likes a couple of lipsticks but wants to get more information on them. Problem is that she can’t find a sales person or simply is one of those people who’d rather shop on their own than to get “pestered” (as she puts it) by the sales people.
Now…Imagine a camera connected to a big TV screen in the store. Jane simply holds up the item in front of the camera and the TV immediately starts displaying the product information. It tells her that the product she’s holding up is a MAC lipstick that costs 75 AED, it is available in 5 colors and currently all the colors are in stock except the “radiant red”. Here I used the example of a lipstick but this could be any kind of product. All that would be required is a tag or a sticker on the item, that can be used to uniquely identify it
Using these means Jane has easily gotten all the information she needed and the best part is that she didn’t need any help.
Virtually trying the product
The next items on Jane’s list is a nice looking pair of jeans. She’s picked out 5 pairs that she wants to try out. So she walks up to a full length, mirror like screen. The mirror quickly reads her body as an object and then as a reflection shows Jane wearing those jeans. Jane can turn left or right to see how she looks from different angles and can even choose different colors. And as long as shes there, she can even try on a top that the mirror can recommend for her!
By giving Jane the ability to virtually try on these items and pushing our recommendations, we’ve enhanced her shopping experience, while effectively building in our sales pitch to make her buy more stuff. Truly phenomenal!
By the end of it all, Jane is totally “wowed” by the whole shopping experience and leaves with more than just the lipstick and a pair of jeans. After all…. she had to leave with those killer tops that the mirror recommended for her 🙂
If you think Jane had a great shopping experience then you should hear what Jon had to say; because Jon never even had to go to come to your shop to get what he wanted. All he did was download your iPhone/iPad application and “virtually” tried on the glasses he wanted to get. As a matter of fact sitting in front of his computer he was able to virtually see the new watch he wanted to get as well; all this just by holding a piece of paper in front his the computer’s camera. The camera identified the marker on the paper and gave jon a full virtual representation of the new watch in 3D
All of the above scenarios are in practice in some shape or form today. AR’s role in this industry is sure to increase. And that’s because AR is a technology that can be easily integrated with all the other systems in place. And that means you are able to make sure that all the scattered bits and pieces of information that are required, are displayed first hand as part of visually explosive experience.
Below are a few examples of AR from tImmersion . tImmersion has done some great things and you will find these examples really fascinating.