One obvious use case for augmented reality is to bring the experience of shopping into the home. To date, there have been demos but mostly for one part of the shopping experience like the browsing phase. Osterhout Design Group in partnership with Mastercard, Qualcomm, and support from Saks Fifth Ave, has built an end-to-end shopping experience.
The Augmented Reality Shopping Experience
First exhibited at the Money 2020 event in Las Vegas, the experience covers browsing, authentication (using iris authentication!), and seamless payment. The platform enables users to see outfits in an augmented reality space. They can select them, browse other clothing and then ultimately pay for what they wanted. The great part is that this can all be done with their smart glasses. This use of technology could enable store managers/owners to stock less actual clothing because their customers would be able to visualize the outfits without physically having them there.
Other companies have tried to approach this issue from a different angle. Take the Smart Mirror from Oak Labs. The smart mirror is focused on the ‘trying on’ phase of shopping which positions it well for conversions to sale. This makes for a big shift in the way people shop because there really would be no need for the browsing phase at all. Customers will just walk in, go to their own private fitting room which can have all of the trappings of luxury. They will then choose outfits and automatically see how they look on their own body. The Smart Mirror also packages in stylist recommendations and the ability to call on a human assistant if needed.
Challenges With AR Shopping
Augmented reality retail experiences make sense in a lot of ways but the reality is, we humans like to feel and touch. I personally won’t buy a dress shirt unless I have felt the fit, the fabric quality, and the button stitching. For items like T-Shirts it may not be as important so perhaps there are certain categories this would work for.
The demos do look impressive! However, the experience of wearing the goggles is often restricting. The field of vision makes it like you’re looking through a window and the resolution of the glasses needs work. These are all challenges being worked on by very smart people with deep pockets. As time goes on, the fundamental technology will improve and thus these innovative experiences will be more viable.