The latest company to license our augmented reality merchandising software, the Webcam Social Shopper (WSS), is one of the world’s most iconic brands: Barbie.
Partnering with Mattel, AttentionUSA and several other amazing companies we let fans of all ages step inside Barbie’s Dream Closet and actually see what they would look like in some of her most famous outfits. It was just over a week ago that the Dream Closet came to life as both a New York Fashion Week event and a website, but I’ll let Mattel’s press release provide more context, rather than recreate the wheel:
The Barbie® Dream Closet New York Fashion Week Experience
Debuting at the famed Lincoln Center, Barbie® will unveil a larger-than-life installation of her ultimate Dream Closet complete with 24-foot tall, jewel encrusted doors leading into a two-story, 9,000 square-foot set with multiple dressing vignettes. The New York Fashion Week installation will transport fashionistas and fans in the area inside Barbie’s fantastical wardrobe complete with augmented reality technology “mirrors” that allow users to literally doll themselves up in Barbie’s most iconic, playful and glamorous outfits from the past five decades. Live models also will “dress the set” adorned in high-luxe looks on loan from the Albright Fashion Library, an exclusive couture library that includes styles from Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Moschino, Chloe, and Burberry.
BarbieWow.com: A Global Fashion Destination for Fans of All Ages
BarbieWow.com opens its online doors on February 9th as the brand’s first single, global digital destination. The pink portal will transport fans in more than 30 countries inside Barbie’s Dream Closet with unique brand integrations and new media channels of “sharing and trending” that will turn raiding Barbie’s wardrobe into real-time, globally-shared experiences.
Once inside her Dream Closet, girls of all ages can explore a world of endless fashion, accessories and imaginative play, through interactive activities such as a design studio to dress up Barbie® and augmented-reality “mirrors” to dress up themselves using the doll’s favorite fashions. In partnership with top digital and style destinations Polyvore, Pinterest and Rent the Runway, girls can take inspiration from Barbie to create real-life looks and designs that are all their own. The site also features a section titled “Behind Pink Doors,” where top fashion influencers share stories behind meaningful pieces from their personal closet as an example of the transformative power of fashion.
To date, over 530 stories have been written about the Dream Closet, including pieces by The Wall Street Journal, CNET, PSFK and the Associated Press. And while it feels fantastic to get that sort of coverage, it’s reactions like the ones below that make the late nights worth it. Also included below is a rough cut of some video taken during the Fashion Week event. It documents two young women’s reactions as they use The Webcam Social Shopper for the first time. Just like they would in a store, the young women start to honestly discuss what look works and doesn’t work (for them).
A Young Woman Using The Dream Closet At Fashion Week
A Young Woman Reacts To The Webcam Social Shopper (Credit: WSJ)
In our continuing effort to share as much data with you (about augmented reality) as we can, we wanted to get a quick post up about this: One of our clients, Denmark based online retailer LazyLazy, was recently interviewed by Internet Retailer. In the interview CEO Søren Filbert had this to say about our augmented reality merchandising software, the Webcam Social Shopper (WSS):
”17% of our visitors are using this and they are converting two to three times more.”
Now, that’s a great stat, but when you couple it with data we’ve previously noted in this blog…
Online retailer Banana Flame saw a 50% improvement in conversions on the “add to cart” button after integrating WSS (more Banana Flame data here).
WSS is proven to help young women make more informed purchase decisions – “Seeing it on helped me decide” (Link)
… it becomes a trend. It shows that augmented reality can provide real value for people, which subsequently provides real value (i.e. ROI) for businesses.
The end of last year we partnered with SocialVibe and Deutsch to launch the “Anthem Blue Cross Webcam Exam” for Zynga’s network. It was a branded engagement that used augmented reality to allow people to interact with three Doctor’s tools – if you’re interested you can read more about it here. Today, I just wanted to share some of the data being released:
The average time spent with the Anthem Blue Cross ad is 76.1 seconds, Seventy-seven percent of consumers run through all three tools, and 71.6% of consumers click through to the landing page for more information after completing the interaction with the advertisement. (source)
Not bad numbers for an ad huh?
Below is a little visual walk-through of the experience…
Investment in augmented reality development is one key to our industry’s success. So we thought we’d aggregate, and share a list of our industry’s “success stories”. We’d like this list to not only be about the developers that are getting venture capital funding, but the large corporations that are validating the space by investing their resources/money towards AR as well.
As you can see, the space is starting to heat up.
We’ll try to update this list regularly, so please feel free to add anything I’m missing in the comments.
Flutter Raises $1.4 Million For Gesture Recognition Tech (Link)
13th Lab raises $700,000 to build its ‘UI for reality’ (Link)
Ditto Picks Up $3 Million From August Capital, Others For Its Virtual, 3D Eyeglasses Sales Site (Link)
How To Attract Justin Timberlake: Here’s The Pitch Dekko Used To Snag The Celebrity Investor (Link)
Total Immersion gets $5.5M to expand augmented reality (Link)
Layar Augments Reality With $14M in New Funding (Link)
Tonchidot Raises $12 Million Round B, Expands Augmented Reality/Social Gaming Platform SoLAR Globally (Link)
EU backs ST-Ericsson to deliver augmented reality (Link)
Google, Apple Making Augmented Reality Cool Amid CES (Link)
Microsoft And TechStars Launch Kinect Accelerator For New Kinect-Based Startups (Link)
Qualcomm opens submissions for its $200,000 Augmented Reality Developer Challenge (Link)
Blippar raises seed funding from Qualcomm for mobile augmented reality technology (Link)
Gamma III structures first round funding of Mobilizy GmbH (Makers of Wikitude) (Link)
HP Acquires Control of Autonomy Corporation (Makers of Aurasma) (Link)
Augmented Reality App Maker CrowdOptic Scores $500,000 In New Funding (Link)
More funding news in Poland: augmented reality game ShootAR is backed by IIF (Link)
Have you seen the coverage of these “3D Virtual Fitting Rooms”? Thanks to the power of the Microsoft Kinect several of these hacks products have entered the market over the past few months, and they’re getting a bit of media attention (wait, here’s another one that just launched yet is claiming to be the “first”). Because of these articles, I’ve been asked by a few people for my thoughts on these 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms, hence the post below. Hopefully this post will initiate a bit of dialogue among us, and whether you agree or disagree with me, I’d love for you to weigh in below.
So, without further ado, let me give you a run down of our thinking on 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms:
Depth Sensing Cameras – The cameras these executions are using are cutting edge and offer (developers) some huge opportunities to create compelling motion/gesture based user interfaces, and overall more sophisticated augmented reality user experiences. A depth sensing camera’s functionality is simply leaps and bounds more advanced than the average person’s webcam… it’s not even close. To borrow a Larry Miller quote: “It’s the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.”
Powerful Hardware Systems – When we’re looking at In-Store 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms, developers are able to control the hardware that’s powering the experience. That means they can create significantly more powerful applications since they don’t need to build software for the hardware the average user has at home (like we do). This is definitely a benefit.
Foot Traffic – These types of systems are pretty novel, and initially people will be interested in playing around with them. So if you’re one of the first stores to utilize the tech, you’ll probably generate a bit of extra foot traffic, and a bit of buzz.
At Home Hardware & Penetration – All of these 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms claim to work in people’s homes. And technically, that’s possible. They can be made to work in a home, but I’m going to get right to the point: do you have a depth sensing camera at home? Probably not. In short, that means you can’t use the 3D Virtual Fitting Room. The fact is PCs and connected TVs are a few years away from having depth sensing cameras integrated natively, so realistically your only opportunity to have a depth sensing camera at home is to own a Microsoft Kinect. So, let’s assume you have a Microsoft Kinect at home — after all, as of March there were already 10 million units sold. First off, as we discuss consumer reach, is should be noted that that number pales in comparison to the PC numbers Intel noted recently: over 1 million computers are sold daily and there are 1.5 billion in use. Second, Microsoft hasn’t announced details around commercial licenses for the Kinect. And that’s important. Will a retailer have to pay 50 grand to create Xbox applications? Will Microsoft take 30% of sales and kill any margins? Will they even allow a third party shopping application on X-Box Live or will they “reject” them when submitted? These are all questions that today we don’t know the answers to. So, if only a minority of people even have potentially compatible hardware, and those that do have no ability to access the software… how can people realistically use a retailer’s 3D Virtual Fitting Room at home?
Content Is King, And There Is No Content – This one will be quick: Manufacturers/Retailers don’t have 3D assets of their clothing items, and as of today 3D assets for augmented reality are cost prohibitive to produce. And without clothes, it’s not a very compelling “fitting room” is it?
“Fit” Just Can’t Be Done – Even if retailers could create perfect looking 3D assets in a cost effective manner, these alleged “3D Virtual Fitting Rooms” can’t accurately portray fit (i.e. where a garment would actually bunch, hang, or bulge on a person’s very unique body), or provide shopper’s with the tactile feedback that’s such a key component of the “promise of fit”.
What’s The Value-Ad For The In-Store Shopper? – Question: What exactly does the spate of 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms add to the current in-store shopping experience? It’s new… and different, sure. But does it truly help the shopper shop? Once they get past some initial “wow factor”, will it continue to add to the shopping experience? I mean, the actual dress is three feet away on a hanger. If they’re at home, I get it. It can help them to better visualize what the item might look like on them. But why would a shopper that’s in a store prefer to “hold up” a digital dress, rather than feel and interact with the real deal? They made the effort to leave their homes, and come to a store. Why would they then opt for an experience they could pretty much have at home on their laptop?
As I’m sure you can guess, in my opinion the “bad” outweighs the “good” for today’s crop of 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms. The technology is incredibly powerful but I think that the realities of the current marketplace make this technology an unwise investment for retailers. To be honest, if a retailer has the luxury of being on a development timeline that lasts a few years and can afford some R&D, then my advice would change. But with budgets being tight, if a retailer wants to make an impact today, I think it’s way more prudent for them to start with a 2D experience online. It’ll cost less; will be easier to produce/execute; will be usable by significantly more of their shoppers; and, already has data to support its effectiveness.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts below… And you can find me on twitter here.
We’d like to introduce you to the two newest online retailers to license and launch our ecommerce augmented reality software, The Webcam Social Shopper (WSS):
K-BEE LEOTARDS – A U.S. based retailer of girl’s gymnastics leotards. (Link)
LAZY LAZY – Based in Denmark, it’s an online shopping centre, where unique brand shops (such as Diesel) are displayed side by side in their own unique environments. (Link)
We’re thankful to work with retailers that “get” that the future of ecommerce is social, visual and interactive. And as you can see, this isn’t just U.S. based thinking. It’s global. We now have clients in Russia, Italy, Poland, Denmark, the U.K. and of course the U.S. And we have retailers in Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia and the Czech Republic in production…
Speaking of being thankful, it is the season of giving, so we’d like to let you all know that for the next two weeks we’re offering (new) retailers a 90-Day risk free trial of WSS. So if you’re a retailer that’s interested in checking out what WSS can do for your shoppers, now’s the time to pull the trigger. Or, if you know someone that might be interested in this offer, please do us a favor and share this blog post with them.
For anyone that’s interested in licensing WSS, please contact us at info(at)Zugara(dot)com.
You gotta love it when you’re “randomly” checking out a video on CNN (because it’s titled “Augmented Reality Revamps Online Sales”) and you stumble upon the fact that a demo of your product is heavily featured. Of course, it would have been nice to have actually been credited for our work… All in all, it’s still an exciting day for us. If you’re interested, the video is below (the section featuring the Webcam Social Shopper begins around 47 seconds in).
This year we’ve seen some pretty cool “out of home” branded augmented reality executions. Below are videos from Disney, National Geographic and Lynx showcasing their work. As you’ll see, they are pretty similar in concept, and yet subtly different in execution.
It’s always fun to watch people’s reactions in these videos. Part amazement, part wonder and part pure joy. I like all three executions, but personally, the National Geographic’s one is my favorite. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a nerd about NatGeo (among other things). I love that channel. But I also love that they used some gesture controls to make the AR experience more interactive.
So what do you think? Which one do you like best? I’d love to get your thoughts below…
When it comes to Cancer, the importance of regular self examinations cannot be overstated. But, what’s the right way to administer those exams? The fact is, most people don’t know how to properly examine themselves, and many are too embarrassed to ask…
So we teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi Mexico to create a Breast Cancer Awareness application for Olay that utilizes an animated silhouette (and a motion capture interface) to educate women on the proper technique to use when giving themselves a breast exam. All women need is the right Olay t-shirt and a webcam, and they are good to go.
This is yet another example of how augmented reality can be used to facilitate a particular experience, one that in this case educates in an interactive manner.
We Are Organized Chaos (WAOC) is Zugara’s (www.zugara.com) interactive marketing and advertising blog where we’ll be featuring some great projects and discussing upcoming trends in the digital world. Work — good and bad — will be critiqued. Hope you’ll enjoy reading our insights and thoughts on interactive.