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Augmented Reality: What does it mean for retail?
Submit On: 20-04-2010

Augmented Reality: Here’s the definition: the real-time overlay of digital information over an image of the physical world.

This essentially means that you can capture photos on your mobile phone (for example) and augmented reality applications will be able to give you more information about the object in question.

Yelp's iPhone app is the most recent application to hold the attentions of iPhone enthusiasts. With three simple shakes of the iPhone, the app sources the closest restaurants, complete with ratings, simply by pointing the camera down the street. In terms of retail applications, it can’t be too long before we can expect live product reviews when standing in-front of a potential purchase, image recognition, locating the nearest retail store, or the ability to locate the nearest employee in the store.

Retail stores could also integrate augmented reality elements into some of their fixtures and displays. For example, Lego has begun a worldwide rollout of the ‘Digital Box.’ The Digital Box is powered by Metaio digital technology and when the customer holds the Lego boxes up to the digital reader, they can then watch a 3D animation of the product – from all angles, in every detail. The technology not only creates a fascinating technical experience, but also gives retailers a unique selling pitch while helping to inform interested buyers. To see a demonstration, check out this Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUuVvY4c4-A


Another fascinating example comes from Japan, where the Takashimaya department store’s Shiseido cosmetic department features an Augmented Reality cosmetic mirror. A camera scans the customer’s face, and the terminal can give then give instant recommendations. Pressing a few buttons on the touch-screen paints make-up onto the image in real-time. The customer can then take a print-out of the demonstration as a purchase guide.  The Youtube clip for this one is great too – I encourage you all to take a look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuL07_Gzp78

And before you sign off from the Augmented Reality space you have to look at this final Youtube clip (about 6 minutes – but it’s worth it). It shows SixthSense Technology in action and is reminiscent of the futuristic style of Minority Report. SixthSense technology involves a wearable fingertip device that connects the physical world with digital information via the use of hand gestures. It’s a must see….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQEHtvNsfKE

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