Three innovations that rethink the retail experience
At Microsoft Envision 2019, held in Paris the 14 November 2019, VISEO had a chance to show the world some of the innovative solutions it has developed using the software giant’s artificial intelligence technologies. Some of VISEO’s success in this domain can in part be attributed to an innovative organizational choice. It created a special team within the group, almost like a startup, to seek out new technological advances and define their value for business applications and more broadly. As it happens, a large part of their work tends to focus on challenges in the retail sector.
More than anything else, VISEO set out to answer the fundamental question that everyone in the retail sector has been asking for years: how can the industry use new artificial intelligence technologies to reinvigorate the instore experience in ways that are useful? In this case, the promise of a phygital world that unites all things physical and digital in symbiosis materialized in three parts. VISEO’s solutions allowed visitors to 1) interact with an augmented reality mobile application, 2) a connected mirror and 3) a holoportation device. Each of these situation simulators provides new answers to some underlying questions in the retail world.
Immersive perfumes, how nice…
Today, a large part of the customer’s instore experience can be summed up as looking at a product’s packaging to find the ingredients and the price. A few observations: First off, by enlisting the help of a smartphone, consumers can access more information and make better choices. Second, manipulating a product’s packaging and examining labels distracts consumers and makes them lose sight of the product itself and its design. This point is particularly true in the luxury sector, where scanning a QR or barcode would be in complete dissonance with the luxury experience and likened to bad taste.
With these ideas in mind, the first step gives the consumer access to more information about a perfume in an amusing way: the potential buyer simply aims her/his smartphone’s camera at the product to see additional information about when use the product, feedback from other users or the product’s price and availability. Microsoft’s facial recognition technology (Microsoft Custom Vision) makes all of this possible.
Using the same bottle of perfume, we wanted to show how this technology can enhance the customer experience through inspirational marketing, and facial recognition. As perfumes often incarnate worlds of their own, it makes sense to push the sensorial experience further with an immersive 360° video environment made for mobile phones. The video experience allows users to delve further into the golden and exotic universe that surrounds their beloved fragrance.
A mirror that reflects intelligence
A mirror’s reflection is nice. But, by definition, an augmented reflection is better. For VISEO, this was the fourth intelligent mirror to come out of its lab. It was also a sign of the growing enthusiasm for this type of product among VISEO’s retail clients.
This was the second mirror designed as part of a stand. It hid a screen and a microphone to create a truly uplifting makeup experience. As a new take on a quintessential part of the a classic beauty environment, this mirror can both understand and respond to vocal commands (thanks to a technology that automatically processes natural language, LUIS, developed by Microsoft), recognize a product via the camera (Microsoft Custom Vision) and make personalized product recommendations. These recommendations are calculated according to the shape of a person’s face, their age, the glasses a person is wearing and many other factors (Microsoft Custom Vision, Microsoft Face API).
Visitors to the stand could also follow makeup tutorials via short videos displayed harmoniously next to their reflection in the mirror.
Well hello holoportation
In the third and final scenario, we imagined a situation where a customer wanted specific information that required someone with expert knowledge about the product and brand, but none of the sales staff present was available. To meet this challenge, we designed a solution based on an expert projected as a hologram, thanks to an image created by Microsoft’s latest camera (Azure Kinect DK). The hologram made this advisory experience more immersive than a simple, one way video and saved consumers time.
As you have seen, using these three immersive and interactive tools that combine several artificial intelligence technologies can reinvigorate instore retail experiences in exciting new ways. Thanks to these innovations, consumers can do more than just try new products – they can live rich and augmented instore experience.
Retailers, do not hesitate to contact us to speak about your projects.