What will shopping be like in the future?

A whistle-stop tour through the future shopping experience

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Have you ever had one of those moments where the person walking down the street just a few steps ahead of you, is wearing a coat you’re desperate to own? Once upon a time you may have built up the courage to chase after her and ask where it’s from. Not far from now you’ll be able to pull out your smartphone, snap a shot of it and image recognition technology from Cortexica or in apps like Asap54 and Snap Fashion will accurately do its work to tell you not only what brand it is, but where nearby has it in stock too.

On this occasion, imagine you’re headed to an upmarket department store with availability in your size. As you walk through the door iBeacon transmitters using Bluetooth low energy technology activate and send a welcome notification to your phone. The message lets you know there’s also a 15% off offer on all products today.

You click to open the corresponding app for the store itself, and it syncs with the earlier image recognition system to show you exactly where to find the item you want. You’re wearing your new designer (Ray-Ban) smart glasses (Google), which personalise your view on the store – an augmented reality overlay from Blippar is placed on your surroundings directing you with turn-by-turn navigation as you walk.

Additional information pops up as you head that way, alerting you to items you specifically might like. It knows your purchase history and can flag up pieces that will style well with what you already own. Privacy isn't a concern – you’ve opted-in for this. You know this department store well and like a classic loyalty programme, there's a sense of value attached to letting them know who you are. 

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Further special prices and offers are highlighted and adapted especially for you based on your social influence too. If you opt to share with friends you will receive yet a further discount.

As you lift dresses and tops off the rails, the hangers activate screens alongside you featuring images and videos of models wearing the items. The system is gesture-controlled thanks to Microsoft Kinect, so you can wave to scroll beyond each shot to see further details about each garment; where it comes from, what the manufacturing process was, even what the washing instructions are.

You can also pull up a virtual assistant to help you. Created by a company called Fluid, this is a cognitive computing based system developed using IBM Watson. It understands natural human language allowing you to ask it a question as you would a friend. As it’s also based on voice recognition, you simply tell it about your upcoming holiday and request suggestions for what you might need.

It returns a list of specific products based on the climate of your destination as well as what it knows is trending in that market. Rather than relying on keywords to surface specific product, the artificially intelligent app (yes, think robot) acts more like a personal shopper would, offering options based on context.

You take all the items you’ve selected into the fitting room. Each garment has a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, meaning the room recognises each piece individually. As you try them on, content is activated on the mirror, including recommendations for what you could wear with it, like a necklace and pair of shoes to go with the dress, or a bag to match your skirt. A 3D printer outside from 3D Systems allows you to instantly print any matching accessories you wish to buy.

“You make your choices and use the e-tattoo on your wrist with personal authentication details to make payment; it syncs once again with your store loyalty scheme so you get the best deal possible that day.”

The virtual experience, this time powered by Accenture and Microsoft, also shows you what the piece you’re wearing would look like on you in different colours. It lets you connect with a sales assistant automatically who brings you in new pieces, then offers you that all-important human connection in terms of advice and expertise on what suits you best.

The mirror you’re looking into also has a memory. Created by MemoMi with Intel, it has saved 360-degree views of what you’ve tried on so far to a right hand column on the display, so when you’re still not quite sure on what to buy you can go back and look at each of them, or share a couple of them with friends to help.

One of the dresses you want for an upcoming event doesn’t quite fit as nicely as you’d like it to, so you activate the connected fitting room to do a full 3D body scan of your figure. That data can then be sent off with the item to be tailored exactly to fit. The sales assistant lets you know you also have the option to have it made up in other fabrics – she passes you her tablet, which uses haptic technology (tiny vibrations that recreate what something feels like) to allow you to run your finger over the screen and feel the different textures.

You make your choices and use the e-tattoo on your wrist with personal authentication details to make payment; it syncs once again with your store loyalty scheme so you get the best deal possible that day.

As you head out you decide to stop at a virtual storefront powered by eBay, this time to select food for dinner. It senses the Apple health tracker you’re wearing and through a number of apps you’ve downloaded can identify the nutrients you’re missing from the day. It suggests a recipe, and at a quick touch of a button syncs with the sensors in your fridge at home and detects the ingredients you’re missing. They’ll be delivered by drone by the time you get home.

 

Visual Credits:

Artwork by Pinar & Viola

Model wears Janneke Verhoeven

3D pet designed by Alewism

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