Augmented Reality and Virtual Trial Rooms
Can one imagine walking into a branded store, or for that matter, even an Adidas or a Nike store, which does not have a fitting room? Yet, when the same brands sell online, people cannot try on their garments before buying. The biggest drawback of online shopping is that the buyer does not know how the garment will look on him or her or how good is the fit. While for online shoppers, this translates into apprehension and unnecessary headache if they have to return the purchase, portals too have to deal with a lot of “returns” and “exchanges”.
Not just for clothing, the same applies to online purchases for jewellery. After spending thousands of rupees, only to find that the jewellery does not look that great on you, is a disastrous experience. It not only leaves us dejected but makes us shun online shopping altogether.
It seems all the problem is with online shopping, so if we stop shopping online, we would always make right buy. No, there is more trouble to come in the normal stores. Have you ever bought something very enthusiastically at the store but realizing once you reach home, that you did not get a sweet deal? I would feel cheated, if it were me. The main reason is that we base our decisions on the available limited information, which is mostly provided by the shopkeeper. Too bad our brains can’t ‘google’ the information to land us the best deal. Moreover, I have not mentioned the problems of shopping like, endless waiting for trial rooms to be free, aimlessly wandering the store by not getting the right item, the long billing queues, the rush in the ‘sale’ season, and many others.
But then, is there someway to overcome these obstacles to make our shopping an exhilarating experience. An answer I can think of is merging the digital world with the real world. In simple terms, we need to create a bridge between the Internet and real life that can be crossed easily and at will. With the advent of smartphones and tablets infiltrating our lives completely, I say, lets use them to their fullest potential.
Amidst all the cacophony, a new technology has emerged, Augmented Reality. This technology promises to build a bridge between two diverging worlds the Internet and Real life leaving the possibilities, limitless. With the smartphones and the tablets as our road we can walk across this path easily. As our shopping case is concerned, we can use these devices to interact, search, share and try.
Let us take the case of Jewellery shopping. Suppose, a store we often visit has an iPad installed for us to have access to all the information we need. Additionally, if all the jewellery which the store has to offer is present in the iPad and we would just have to flip the catalog in the iPad to check them out; would that not be great. Extending our imagination further, what if we could even try the jewellery on ourselves using the iPad’s camera, compare instantly between different items, seek opinions of our friends from social networks, even get recommendations for industry leaders; A whole new style of shopping. This concept of using an iPad to try on Jewellery is commonly termed as Virtual Trial. Now, we could use the power of internet coupled with AR to take shopping on a whole new level.
AR makes even greater sense in shopping online. When shopping online we always face the difficulty of how the item ‘looks’ on us. If we could use the webcam to try on clothes, jewellery, hats on ourselves, it would make our choices much simpler and easier to execute. So next time we shop online, we can be very sure that we made the right buy.
Shopping has evolved in both complexity and adoption. First came the concept of malls and now we are overwhelmed with online stores. Even Virtual shopping has been introduced by big retailers. In fact many online stores have launched a simple image overlay version of the virtual trial rooms. Some retail outlets have started using various versions of iPad solutions for virtual trial. Already we are seeing advancements in the ability to deliver even more realistic virtual simulations, as well as the integration of virtual stimulus with other complementary technologies such as bio-metrics neuroscience and facial recognition which, when executed together, can provide unprecedented understanding of how both human emotions and behavior intersect at the retail shelf.