Virtual shopping where you can try on clothes remotely? Check. Groceries ordered through adverts on the subway? Check. A scanner that maps 300,000 points on the body so you get a perfect pair of jeans? Check. An online clothes scanning system that lets you have Cher’s Clueless fashion computer? Check.The majority of things we dreamed about- and those that never even occurred to us- have now made their way to the high street of today, and they’re easy to use and incredibly helpful to everyday life. I’d like to take a look at a few of the technologies that are revolutionizing shopping in the 21st century, and sharing how accessible they are to everyday people.
A lot of new shopping technology is about what people are doing BEHIND THE SCENES, and it’s good to be aware of how your high tech high street experience is created.
Tesco Shopping via QR Codes on the Subway
Grocery shopping is a necessary evil and something we have less and less physical time for- which is why online groceries are now so popular. I do find that I miss physically browsing the items though, and Tesco has an innovative way for you to do this. In 2010 they teamed up with a design agency to offer grocery shopping on the subways in Korea. Sorry, VIRTUAL grocery shopping. Customers would choose items displayed along the walls, scan the related QR codes and this would link to Tesco Online and bag up the products- to be delivered the same day! Remember, Korea has amazing reception/WiFi signal on the subway, so this was easy for people to fit into their lives and a nice way for users to really connect with their grocery store.
Sadly, I think this project finished in 2011, but it just goes to show what is possible- and what we might come to expect in the future.
Me-Ality (formerly My Best Fit) for clothes
It’s frustrating when you discover you’re size 10 in one shop, a size 12 in another and a size 8 in a third (remember that designer sizing story?) so Me-Ality has been created to help solve your woes. Most customers often give up buying when they constantly find size variation- or get discouraged from trying anything new (one example; Jeans), so this body scanning booth is designed to take away any size questions you have.
To use you step into the Me-Ality scanning booth (totally free to use) and it scans your body with 196 hidden antennas. The 8×8 foot both has a rotating scanner wand which rotates 360 degrees when the machine starts. During this process each antennae emits a small radio signal,and in 10-15 seconds these signals reflect the water off a person’s skin. It uses these measurements to map 200,000 places on your body and then tallies these against it’s database of clothing to provide you with perfect shape matches. The matches can be viewed on a LCD screen and you can sort through them by style, price and colour. Me-Ality has teamed up with numerous famous names including Hollister, Brooks Brothers and Bebe to give sizing details.
You can find your nearest Me-Ality scanning station by checking their map here.
Banana Flame integrate Augmented Reality into their store: Try on clothes before you buy online!
One of the problems of online shopping is that you never quite know if it will fit right when the clothes arrive- or of the colours will suit you. Well, the issue of clothes siting you is addressed here as Banana Flame have integrated Zugara’s Augmented Reality software into their store, and you can now virtually ‘try’ outfits on with ease. It’s a simple bit of software that works with your computers webcam, and clothing size can be adjusted based on waving your arms/ moving in and out of frame.
Banana Flame have also added a social elements where you can request feedback from friends by linking to a snapshot of you in your purchase via email, Twitter and Facebook. This wouldn’t be something that would make m buy an item I had no desire for, but if I were wavering about something, I know this would have me pressing click to the shopping cart.
BodyMetrics is a similar system to the aforementioned Me-Ality system, a pod you stand in that uses radio signals to map a 3D image of the body and show you clothes that align with this. There are a few differences- they take 100 measurements and Me-Ality take 200, but it’s basically the same., The plus points are that they are available in the UK (only London) and plan to expand.
Where they differ though is with a new peripheral for the XBOX, to help gamers get the perfect clothing to play Dance Central/ Just Dance/ (insert game here). Using the PrimeSense Kinect 3D capture camera you can map out your shape at home and create a 3D image of yourself. You can then select clothing to ‘try’ on your avatar and examine how it hangs from different angles. A nice touch is that the body will glow red if the clothing is too tight. The 3D avatar will link to some shopping sites, with retailers such as Amazon reportedly looking to support this application. I think this is pretty exciting- and it means that EVERYONE will now have an extra excuse to demand that they need to get an XBOX 360. Price should be around £100/$150 and will be out later this year.
Kraft Kiosk Next Gen Meal Planning Machine suggest what food you should buy
In a bid to simplify a process I didn’t think was an issue, Kraft and Intel have created a rather strange machine. Called the “Next Generation Meal Planning Solution”, what we are looking at is an interactive vending machine with a face scanner that analyzes your image and assigns you food choices based on your demographic. The idea is that the scanner will read your sex, age and combine this data with factors such as the time of day and weather and offer you related food. Think Barbie ice creams if you’re a ten year old girl and it’s hot, and BBQ meat if it’s good weather and you look like a carnivore. I don’t know if people really need to have the decision of what to eat taken away from them, but for those who have difficulty making up their minds it might be useful.
The machine can also dispense money off coupons and product samples. The main issue with this machine is that if you’re limited to Kraft foods, you probably won’t really be getting a balanced diet, more of a customized snack. Learn more about this at Intel here.