Sam’s Club will soon be introducing a whole new way to shop in Dallas, Texas. Their new location, called Sam’s Club Now, will serve as the company’s “epicenter of innovation,” where they’re testing everything from augmented reality product overlays to self-checkout via mobile app. A video on their site demonstrates what the experience could look like.
Shoppers will be able to make grocery lists on the app before entering the store. When they arrive, a map on their phone will direct them where to go to find the items on their list. The directions can also be activated by voice commands. Product pricing will use electronic labels — eliminating the need to manually print and replace signage. Scanning a product with their phone before adding it to a physical shopping cart allows for self-checkout when they’re finished.
AR product experiences will include showing ways to use the product, highlighting key features, and even speak to how items are sourced. There will also be kid-friendly experiences such as turning digital shopping carts into pirate ships or rockets.
Sam’s Club is using the new location to serve as a testing lab for these new technologies before rolling them out to other clubs. They’ll be using over 700 cameras to continually scan and optimize.
Why It’s Hot
Sam’s Club is testing innovative concepts that have the power to transform the everyday shopping experience.
One of the brilliant minds at Google recently shared the AR application above that lets users quickly and easily count money of any currency, in any currency.
Why It’s Hot:
These types of new uses for AR might seem novel and even a bit magical now, but it won’t stay that way for long. This is just another signal that our future will be in 4D, with a new digital layer that will add information and functionality to the physical world.
Zara mannequins are coming to life. The fast fashion destination is giving its display windows an AR makeover, enabling passersby to simply point their smartphones at empty display windows to make virtual models appear, move, and converse on their screens. If they like what they see, they can shop items directly from their mobile phones.
Why It’s Hot
-First retailer to implement AR at a mass scale
-Really smart and effective way to dress up retail…one that has fast turn arounds and less man power
-Bridges the purchase gap from brick and mortar to .com
When it comes to clothing and footwear purchases, customers still sometimes have no choice but to purchase products online blindly without being able to try them on, hoping that it looks good when it shows up. AR company Vyking is offering a new feature that hopes to solve this problem by letting customers try on a pair of sneakers virtually before they make a purchase.
While AR facial recognition is already being used by retailers for things like letting shoppers virtually try on beauty products, this could be a first for ‘foot recognition’ technology. The app uses AR and computer learning to sense where the wearer’s foot is and projects a model of the sneaker onto their foot.
Why it’s hot: This not only helps customers find styles that match their preferences but also cuts costs for retailers with returns.
For just under $6, you can give someone an augmented reality experience. Kineticards is building AR-enabled greeting cards that animate off of the page. The user must download the Kineticards app. Then they simply point the camera to the card, and the graphics start moving. The app maps the greeting card’s illustration and then replaces the static images with an animation. The AR dimension can also add interesting layers of information to the card. Gender reveal cards, for example, only show the word “boy” or “girl” once viewed through the app.
Why it’s hot: Although this is not anything new or completely unique, it is a simple and straightforward way to revamp greeting cards, and make them more interactive and personalized.
During SXSW, Outdoor Voices rolled out a new AR app, which encouraged festival-goers to break away from the craziness of the convention center and explore the hiking trails around Austin… and, use their app. The app is directed users to a park where they could then scan the ground and be rewarded with location-specific deals on apparel; the items were viewable in AR and users could see them in nature, explore them in detail, and even order using Apple Pay.
Why it’s hot: While some brands have started experimenting with AR games and scavenger hunts, Outdoor Voices takes an in interesting attempt to combine with commerce. Why it kind of defeats the purpose of ‘getting outdoors’ and ‘unplugging’, what better way to buy outdoor hiking clothes – while you’re doing that exact thing?
Cuseum, a company focussed on implementing augmented reality to improve museum experiences, is working with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In March 1990, thieves broke into the museum and stole 13 pieces of art worth an estimated $500 million. Today, the works have still not been recovered.
This year, on the 28th anniversary of the heist, Cuseum decided to use augmented reality powered by Apple’s ARKit to digitally put the stolen paintings back into their frames. Visitors are now able to see the pieces exactly where they originally were in the museum.
The museum is also offering a $10 million reward for any information that aids in the return of the stolen works.
Why it’s hot: This is a simple way to combine digtial and traditional ways to experience a museum, and leveraging AR to (somewhat) bring these paintings “home”.
The New York Times app started to incorporate AR into its digital content that makes flat images three-dimensional.
In an article reporting on the Winter Olympics, NYT uses the technology to allow readers to engage with the content, the athletes. Readers can look closer on some parts of the content, look at it from a different angle and walk around it. This functionality extends the time a reader spends on the article by letting them engage with the content.
Why it’s hot: using technology to add value to content and improve customer experience.
Details are a bit scant, but eBay announced this week it will soon be integrating AR functionality into its app.
Per Fortune, “The San Jose, California-based marketplace said it’s working on an AR kit that, for example, will let car enthusiasts see how the images of new wheels would look on their vehicles before making a purchase. Another feature will help sellers select the correct box size for an item by overlaying an image of the box on the merchandise.”
Why It’s Hot:
While not the newest kid on the block (eg, Ikea has used AR for years), eBay is a massive marketplace where millions of people globally buy and sell things. With physical retail integrating technology to fight back against the convenience of e-commerce, this is an example of e-commerce trying to bring elements of physical retail to the digital world. One of the big disadvantages of e-commerce is usually you’ll only see a bunch of images of a product, which in eBay’s case may or may not be of the actual product you’re buying. The ability to see what something looks like in a virtual 3 dimensions is a major new advantage.
Fortuitously timed, a genius developer has created an app that lets you appear to wield a Star Wars styled Light Saber using Augmented Reality. Per its creator:
“It’s an iPhone app that turns a rolled up piece of paper into a virtual lightsaber. I think the best thing about it is that it brings a special effect that has typically been reserved for advanced video editors to a mass audience.”
Why It’s Hot:
Augmented Reality has of course seen many new uses since becoming a widely available capability on iOS. Some are useful, and some just let you live out childhood fantasies like this. In either case, it’s amazing the digital layer of the world we are building on top of the physical one we have known for our entire lives.
Brain Power is a suite of AR and VR-like apps that work with Google Glass, to help people with autism learn crucial social interaction skills.
A few examples – “Emotional Charades” teaches them to identify emotions in real peoples’ faces. “Transition Master” helps them get comfortable with new circumstances before entering them. And “Face2Face” teaches them to make eye contact with others.
It makes it all a game, but unlike other types of teaching moments on an iPad, they’re always experiencing things without the artificial interference of a device screen, where really they’re just interacting with themselves.
Why it’s hot:
Earlier in the year, we talked a lot about the augmented self – how technology was helping us become almost super-human. But, it’s not just that. As Brain Power shows, it’s even helping learn basic human skills we might have a hard time with otherwise. While this is for autistic children to learn social skills, there’s no reason any child couldn’t learn through digital technology that feels like real life.
Plus, it’s another example of hardware getting out of the way. The only device needed here is the wearable Google Glass, which makes the experience feel like real life with a digital layer, rather than an artificial, screen-based experience.
Amazon joins the augmented reality scene with a feature on their application called AR view. This allows customers to virtually view how an item would look in their home prior to their purchase.
When a customer gets on the Amazon application they access the feature through the small camera icon located at the top right of the screen, and then choose the AR view option. From there, they can locate thousands of products to virtually place into their home to see how they would look. The customer viewing the item can rotate it around in a 360 degree fashion to see how it would look from multiple different angles in their home. This feature was announced alongside Amazon opening their Black Friday Deals Store.
The feature comes exclusively to Amazon application users who have an iPhone with the iOS 11 update. Amazon plans to make the feature available for Android phones sometime in the future.
Amazon announced a new augmented reality (AR) functionality for the Amazon App that will give shoppers a chance to envision real-world products around their homes before deciding to buy them.
Amazon didn’t specify exactly which of its offerings will be optimized for the app, but it claims that “thousands” of items across multiple product types will be viewable in AR. You can check out exactly how the tool works in the video below.
The app update is now available for the Amazon app on iOS 11 via Apple’s ARKit, so for now AR View is strictly for shoppers that have iPhones dating back to the 6S. Amazon didn’t share any plans to expand to Android phones.
AR visualization is a growing trend as the tech becomes more common, thanks to new efforts from Apple and Google. Home goods giant Ikea offered one of the first apps using the new ARKit for its customers back in September, while Google teamed up with Wayfair to show off a similar functionality for Tango phones on a mobile version of Chrome at the I/O conference in May.
Amazon is ramping up the tech offerings, giving us voice ordering with Alexa, AI style guidance with the Echo Look, and now AR functionality. The services are all cool shortcuts to make shopping easier than ever — which is exactly what Amazon wants to drive sales.
Why It’s Hot
For someone who is 15 steps ahead of the tech game, this is quite a lag for Amazon
Though late, Amazon continues to extend its world-class UX experience
This is yet another big ripple made created by iPhone’s ARKit
As telemedicine becomes more and more prevalent in our healthcare, Warby Parker just took a very traditional appointment from the exam room; to your living room. The eye exam.
Warby Parker, whose “try before you buy” model of online glasses shopping has already disrupted the traditional eyewear retail store found that many of their users were needing more of an “Rx check” rather than a comprehensive eye exam.
This prescription confirmation, as WB calculates it is nearly a $5B market. So they decided to launch their own startup to capture the demand. during the 2017 Fast Company Innovation Festival co-CEO Dave Gilboa stated
“We realized that we could use tech to make the experience newer, better, and faster,”
The new Perscitipn Check app leverages a desktop plus mobile experience to check the “health” of your current prescription. After the user completes a few tests the results are compared to a database. If the results are within spec, the user pays $40 for a licensed dr to confirm and write a new prescription. If out of spec, the app instructs the user to go for a traditional comprehensive eye exam. The $40 fee is over a 50% discount from a traditional eye exam.
Why It’s Hot
Warby Parker has once again launched innovation in a stagnate market space. Not only did they see that there was an experience gap for their customers, but also decided to take the risks and empower innovation from within. Companies who are humble enough to understand their “on-top” status won’t last forever often employee their best and brightest to create their own competition. This way they get the best new innovation without the delays of typical corporate sponsorship, and they see how the market might compete before a real competitor does.
Quartz News, the digital-focused arm of Atlantic Media, has launched a nifty AR feature in their news stories thanks to the new updates to iOS11. Now in a select number of the daily stories featured in the Quartz News mobile app you will find augmented reality to help illustrate objects featured in a particular story. For instance, its coverage of the demise of the Cassini spacecraft is joined by a 3D model of the ship that users can examine as if it was physically in the same room with them.
Why It’s Hot:
Of all the emerging technologies that companies have their eyes on, augmented reality seems to be the easiest to scale by way of mobile phones with no need for extras like headsets or glasses. Apple CEO, Tim Cook believes that many people will “have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you,” Cook predicted at a tech conference last year.
Quartz News sees this as an opportunity to bring news stories to life in ways that users have never experienced before. “In the same way we can use images and emoji and gifs to bring alive the stories we’re sharing, we think we can use AR to help people understand objects in the news,” John Keefe, head of Quartz’s Bot Studio, adding that the tech could also be used to illustrate stories with 3D landscapes, models of landmarks and historic structures, or even data visualizations.
With the release of iOS 11 came ARKit and a bunch of cool new apps that use the augmented reality technology. This week I saw two that caught my eye for similar reasons.
First is Placenote which allows its users to design interfaces for physical spaces in augmented reality. You could use Placenote to “leave instructions for your airbnb guest, help friends find your apartment, even create and share an interactive museum tour.”
Second is Holo with ARKit, an app that allows users to place 3D objects into their videos/photos.
Why it’s Hot:
Holo with ARKit is an awesome use case to show how ARKit can be used to personalize videos. It could easily be adopted by SnapChat or a similar social network
Placenotes allows users to create experiences in a new medium. Airbnb recently added the guidebook feature to their app which allowed hosts to add a step by step guide for how to reach the apartment/find keys/get in through photos and copy. This would be a great new feature for them to use for hosts to leave notes for guests in AR.
Placenotes could be used at events or shops to give guests information in a unique way.
Both of these products are early ARKit examples. Can’t wait to see what could come next with the type of tech!
An artist created an AR app that displays visualizations for sounds in a 3D space. It remembers the space the device was in when a sound is recorded, creates a visual for it, and plays the chunk of audio for the visualization closest to the user. So, users can “scrub” through audio in AR.
Google is redefining how we perceive the multiple “realities” we have been wrangling to understand to begin with by introducing Immersive Computing.
On one end of the human experience, you have reality. Living, breathing, non-digital reality. It’s great. Usually. In the middle, as technology becomes more “immersive,” you have augmented reality. Basically, graphics start to float in front of your eyes on top of the real world–like a monster in Pokémon Go. Then, eventually, as more and more of these graphics are layered over your perception, you naturally segue into virtual reality. At the right end of the spectrum, all reality has been replaced with pixels.
Basically, this is saying that the existing range of really distinct experiences or technological paradigms, aren’t different, but are all a gradient. And as technology advances and devices merge, immersive computing will allow us to pick and choose how much reality get (or don’t get). It’s the ability to dive as deeply (or shallowly) into the digital world as we’d like, at any time we’d would like, through glasses, or goggles, or a screen, or contact lenses…but preferably a Google device (Wink! Wink!)
And it’s also a way for Google (and brands) to eventually be able to hack our perception at a moment’s notice…In gradients of course.
Why It’s Hot:
New interesting way to frame immersive technologies- one that is more palatable to general audiences
By consolidating all their “reality related” interface experiments under one tech genre, Google is positioning themselves as the leaders in the category
It’s also an indicator of where they are going to be taking headsets/glasses, and possibly Samsung’s contacts.
Six months ago, Omega Ophthalmics did a small trial of seven patients outside of the US. Their goal was to test for adverse effects of a surgery similar to lens replacements that often accompany cataract removals. The difference? Rather than replacing the cloudy lens with a normal artificial lens, surgeons instead implanted a lens that could be used for augmented reality, interactive sensors, or drug delivery.
Why it’s hot
Although widespread adoption of this technology is unlikely in the near future, scientists, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists hope that there is a market for such implants in an aging population that wants to be independent for longer. Whether this small trial is successful may pave the way for larger trials to test additional possibilities and risk.
Apple released ARKit, a mobile AR platform that uses Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to accurately track the world around it. VIO fuses camera sensor data with CoreMotion data, allowing the device to sense how it moves within a room with a high degree of accuracy, and without any additional calibration. It’s open to all developers who want to come create and play…and it’s also probably luring them away from FB/Snapchat/Googs.
By having the experience live in an app on millions of iOS devices, it’s giving creators (developers) a much wider audience (and incentive) to test and socialize.
Already, ARKit’s sharing platform is seeing some really awesome crowdsourced examples of the tech in action.
See more examples of what developers have already been toying with, go here.
Why It’s Hot:
Democratizing AR to both users and developers (HoloLens who?)
Positioning it’s self the Go-To AR platform
Low-Overhead cutting edge technology for brands to explore and own
Nike built an augmented reality application called SNKRS for users to gain access to limited-edition sneakers available for purchase. The first sneaker to debut through the app was the Nike SB Dunk High Pro Momofuku, a collaboration with David Chang, creator and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group.
For a user to gain access to the shoe, they have to open the app and point their camera at the menu at Fuki East Village Momofuku in New York. People can still gain access to the shoes elsewhere, as an online menu works as well. Users need to look for a special ‘SNKRS’ label for the app to work properly. Once scanned, the shoes are unlocked and users have an opportunity to purchase a pair, as long as they’re in stock.
Right now, the SNRKS application only works on iOS phones, but Nike plans to release a version for Android soon.
How do brands use augmented reality in a way that engages their core audience? What’s interesting about this is (1) the audience understanding — sneaker freaks DO care about insider, unique, unlocking-type tasks and (2) the localization factor + partnership factor. However, I have to wonder what the reach is on something like this — is it a lot of effort for a little engagement?
Air New Zealand has partnered with Microsoft to begin beta testing HoloLens augmented reality headsets on flights to help their crews better serve their passengers.
Flight attendants using headsets on their faces might look really strange and scare little children, but the practical applications are pretty cool. Being able to know, for example, which passengers have dietary restrictions or are in a certain mood can enhance the customer experience.
It’s hot because while this might not be a solution that gets mass adoption with every airline, it is nice to know that there is an airline out there that is trying to improve the travel experience (*cough* unlike United *cough*).
Thyssenkrupp, in partnership with Microsoft, has partnered to transform the manufacturing of home mobility.
A home mobility solution is a particularly personal product; it becomes a part of the customer’s home, and it’s a tool that preserves their ability to maintain independence and have full access to their space.The decision to invest in a mobility solution can be difficult – it goes beyond financial tradeoffs, encompassing as well the emotional impact of changing abilities.
Removing obstacles from the process helps turn a potentially uncomfortable customer experience into one that is quick and easy, thereby increasing the percentage of accounts that move forward.
UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive—or BAMPFA—wanted to give their new exhibition titled “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” a little bump.
But Goodby Silverstein & Partners, their agency, does not know how to give “bumps”. Instead, they shot this out of a bloody cannon by developing a geolocation-based augmented-reality mobile app that lets people pepper the virtual space over the Bay Area with digital balloon hearts containing hippy-like messages such as, “Love Is in the Air” or “Free sex”. Okay, okay, to be transparent, I TRIED to upload this last message but the app wouldn’t let me. Apparently, you have to be in the Bay Area. Bummer.
Anyway, think of it as a Pokémon, except instead of catching the little trolls, you are making and popping virtual hearts that release lovey-dovey messages.
In addition to allowing you to spread the virtual love, the app also plays ’60s and ’70s songs like John Lennon’s “Imagine” and features a virtual tour of Bay Area locations significant to the hippie movement’s artistic and political history.
Why It’s Hot:
NAILS a very unique and cool use of AR
Provides a gamified AR experience ala Pokémon
App is fun and practical – i.e. virtual tours tied to the thematic of the exhibition
Subtly hints at a larger cultural sentiment of acceptance and hippy rebellion
Perhaps the only thing more confusing than the buttons, displays and lights on a new car is its manual — that 100+ page booklet of details, photos, and instructions that are enough to make you dizzy and vow never to read it, unless you need to know what that strange glow on your rearview mirror is.
Here comes Hyundai to the rescue. In the first of its kind, the car manufacturer is introducing virtual manuals that rely on augmented reality to explain your car. AR is first being introduced on the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, but will soon be compatible for other models.
Using a smartphone or tablet, car owners will be able to recognize “more than 45 major features of the Sonata and contains 82 how-to videos, six 3D overlay images that appear once users scan different areas of their vehicle, and more than 50 informational guides,” according to the post in psfk.com. Users position their device over the part they want to learn about and AR will provide information about warning lights, Bluetooth phone pairing, brakes, fuse box, etc.
Why it’s hot
As cars become more complicated, augmented reality can take the mystery out of key features of your car and educate the owner on conditions, DIY repairs and an overall understanding of how their car works. Eventually, AR technology will be used in other electronics manuals, such as household appliances and electrical devices, helping to make wordy, poorly written manuals a thing of the past.