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Friday, April 22, 2016
New ‘Horizons’ - Virtual Reality - Part 3 of our series on emerging technologies in retail marketing
Photo by Nan Palmero - used here with Creative Commons license.
Following on from parts 1 & 2 - “Set Visions: Horizons” is a series of blog posts where we’re looking at some of the uses of emerging technologies that some retailers and retail brands are experimenting in - and which we believe will be part of the mainstream in the coming years.
A retail revolution is coming - are you ready?
Having originally started as a Photography Studio in the 90s - evolving over the last decade to deliver CGI photography and interactive visualisers, we at Set Visions have become acutely aware of the need to embrace technology as visual communications continue to evolve at fast pace.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, digital immersive experiences - they are all on the horizon, and Set Visons have the vision to create and deliver them now through our in-house team and innovation partnerships.
In part 1 we covered some of the more impressive in-store immersive retail experiences that have recently been created. In part 2 we looked at Augmented Reality.
It’s been some time since our last ‘Horizons’ blog post – and these days 3 months is a long time in technological innovation. However, carefully planned, our 3rd installment focusing on Virtual Reality, coincides with the very recent (March 28th) launch of the long awaited, Facebook/Zuckerberg backed/funded/owned Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset – which many foresee will be one of the leading forces in finally making Virtual Reality… a… errrr… reality.
Set Visions: Horizons. Part 3 – Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality has promised, but not delivered since the early 1990s. Remember the film Lawnmower Man anyone? And what about some of these technologies that failed to deliver an experience that was ‘real’ enough to send people into a virtual existence?
Unfortunately this gap between the vision and reality of what the technology could deliver meant that attempts at consumer VR were largely abandoned and the technology has lain dormant since, existing largely out of sight in some niche areas of engineering and science.
But such an exciting prospect – wear a headset, and go nowhere and anywhere simultaneously – means this technology was always set to rise, like a phoenix from the flames. The gap between the vision and reality of virtual reality’s promise has finally been closed. A virtual revolution is here – and here are some of the ways leading home and interiors retailers are getting on board.
IKEA’s Virtual Reality Kitchen Experience
Earlier this month IKEA released a pilot virtual reality app featuring a virtual kitchen experience. The app brings the user a virtual IKEA kitchen in real world size. Using an HTC Vive headset, consumers can use the app to explore one of three differently-styled kitchen room settings. The user can change the color of cabinets and drawers with a click.
The launch of the app is intended to solicit consumer feedback as IKEA continues to explore the possible implications of the technology for the home.
“Virtual reality is developing quickly and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of people’s lives. We see that virtual reality will play a major role in the future of our customers. For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them,” says Jesper Brodin, managing director at IKEA of Sweden and Range & Supply Manager at IKEA Group.
“We also see IKEA VR Experience as an opportunity to co-create with people all around the world. We hope that users will contribute to our virtual reality development, by submitting ideas on how to use virtual reality and how to improve the virtual kitchen,” says Martin Enthed, IT Manager for IKEA Communications, the in-house communication agency at IKEA of Sweden.
US home improvement store Lowe's have created the Holoroom - designed to aid customers in remodeling a kitchen or bathroom. Taking things a massive step beyond simple static visualisations rendered using kitchen design software - the holoroom allows the customer to literally/virtually stand in the kitchen as they play an active role in designing it.
In 19 stores around the US, the simulated space can be personalised with individual room sizes, colors and finishings, as well as electrical goods and equipment. Giving Lowe's the dimensions of a room, customers are able to then fill their virtual space from a selection of thousands of Lowe's products.
Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, said the Holoroom helps nudge people over the biggest hurdle when it comes to a room refresh: imagining what those changes will look like in real life.
"If you think about the way people conceptualize remodels now, it's really abstract," Nel said. "They go and get a little swatch here and one there and lay it on a table."
But with virtual reality, people can get a much more "holistic" and immersive view of how a slab of marble or different paint color can change an entire room — drastically increasing the likelihood that they will go with Lowe's for their project, Nel said.
"It removes five steps along the way," he said. "Anyone who has done a renovation has a really visceral reaction."