While we don’t have light sabers or time machines, the last decade has proven to consumers that science fiction has an eerie way of transforming future promises into reality. Moreover, it seems like the prosaic advancements in technology we see today are the very bytes of technology that would have the generations before us stunned in curiosity and be begging for more.
Maybe it’s time we start paying more attention to the promises sci-fi makes, as its nod to innovative technology is quickly becoming our own reality. Think “Star Trek’s” Replicator predicting the 3D printer and Fahrenheit 451’s Seashell Radio touting the ear bud headphones. How about “The Jetsons” who clearly got it right, predicting the Robot Vacuum, now the Roomba and their Sleek TV, now Flatscreen TVs. Lastly, “Visit the World’s Fair of 2014’s” predicted the cordless appliance and now we have Bluetooth speakers, drills, coffee makers and phones.
Flipping the lens, I’ve identified some current progressive innovation that’s actually becoming a reality for us as retailers, in the very near future. Here are some more sci-fi worthy retail innovations in the works.
Enhancing the Shopping Experience with Augmented Reality (AR)
- IKEA uses (AR) to place virtual furniture in your home. Consumers can unlock the feature by scanning pages in the IKEA catalogue with their smartphone or tablet. Then, they position the catalogue in lieu of the furniture, choose the product they like for that space, and it virtually appears. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDNzTasuYEw
- Nordstrom’s is testing Zugara’s (AR) Intelligent Dressing Rooms with touchscreens installed for shoppers to check sizes and styles. Also, Zugara’s (AR) Interactive Mirrors allow shoppers to see their outfit from different angles and share pictures. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNabSnBwBz0
- Vespa Italian Scooters created an (AR) experience that works in with a magazine ad to merge the physical and digital to bring it to life. It allows prospective Vespa owners the ability to customize a scooter using real world specifications, using GPS to direct them to the nearest Vespa dealership to purchase the customized model. https://vimeo.com/97486802
Experiences in Mixed Reality (MR)
- Magic Leap is a South Florida tech company with over $500 million in funding (Google is a significant investor). They don’t have a product out yet, but the ideas that have leaked include: creating theme parks out of thin air; enhancing shopping experience with virtual product; seeing a hologram of a chef prepare dinner for you in your kitchen; replacing business travel with virtual in-face meetings, etc. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw0-JRa9n94
So as sci-fi makes plenty of grandiose promises in technology, I believe we are ambitious and aggressive enough to develop these innovations and turn them into reality. What this means for retail is more in-store and digital engagement with brands and consumers and more personalization causing a greater opportunity for exceptional data collection amongst consumers. Implementing an easier use of sharing on social media and a stronger opportunity to drive more sales and ROI, which is always the goal in retail. In any galaxy.