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.
Since we launched the Webcam Social Shopper (WSS) on Banana Flame we’ve encountered the same question a few times: “Are people really using it?” I figured you might be interested in the answer to that question too, so I wanted to share with you the deck embedded below. It details shopper data around WSS usage, engagement, and ROI.
As you’ll see, yes, people are using augmented reality and they are deeply engaged with it when they are.
Finally, please keep an eye on this blog over the next few weeks as retailers in the UK, Denmark, Russia, Italy and the US are scheduled to launch WSS on their sites soon, and we’ll be announcing them each here when they do.
Oh, and for the record, it looks like SlideShare decided to take some creative liberties with our formatting when they converted the .ppt. I’m sorry about that…
In the past we’ve addressed some of the technical limitations that we see with the mobile augmented reality space in general. In this post, I want to get very specific and address why we don’t currently develop our ecommerce augmented reality software for the mobile market (as we get this question a fair amount). For those of you that are unfamiliar with our software, The Webcam Social Shopper, I’ve embedded an introductory video below.
Sorry, for some reason we’re having trouble embedding the video. If you don’t see it above, you can view it on YouTube here.
Okay, so back to the question at hand: Why don’t we develop for mobile? The short answer? It’s simply not strategic to do so. Let me explain our thinking:
The Addressable Market Is Just A Fraction Of The Computer Market
Our shopping application functions like a mirror, so that means people need to have their screen, and their camera facing the same direction (AKA a forward facing camera). For the computer market, that’s just the way it works… but in the mobile space, that essentially leaves us with two consumer devices: the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2.
Like all businesses, we need to be laser focused and strategic with both our financial and human resources. So let’s look at where we can have a greater impact now. Let’s look at the potential consumer reach for PCs, iPad 2s, and iPhone 4s:
Sources: In September, The Daily Beast stated that 30 Million iPads had been sold. Back in March at the iPad 2 launch event Steve Jobs noted that 15 Million iPads had already been sold.
iPhone 4: 50 to 75 Million sold (note: we don’t know how many of these are replacements for a previously purchased iPhone 4).
Sources: At the recent iPhone 4S event, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that the iPhone 4 accounts for half of all iPhone’s sold. Back in March Steve Jobs noted that since 2007 Apple had sold 100 Million iPhones.
Okay, so let’s put the combined iPad 2 and iPhone 4 sales at the high end of that range: 90 million units. It’s an impressive number, but those sales totals are just 6% of the PCs that Intel states are “in use”… and it should be noted that Intel also states that PCs are selling at a rate of 1 million per day. And here’s another metric for you: 93% of digital traffic is consumed by PCs. That means that the entire Smartphone and tablet market (i.e. not just Apple’s two most recent product launches) accounts for only 7% of digital traffic consumption.
So, when looking at the addressable markets, it’s pretty clear that the computer has the upper hand.
It Would Be A Horrible Experience For The Shopper
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the PC market didn’t dwarf the mobile market. Let’s assume everyone had a Smartphone and they all had forward forcing cameras. There’s still a rather large usability issue keeping us from developing for those devices. And that’s the arm length of the average person. If you noticed, in the video embedded above, the young woman is standing roughly 4 – 6 feet away from her computer. That’s because she’s visualizing if a dress’s style is right for her, so she needs to see her entire body. If you’re holding a Smartphone in your hand, you just can’t hold the phone far enough away to have that experience. And at the end of the day, if we aren’t providing an amazing experience for the shopper, than what the heck is the point?
Now I get it, mobile, especially the iPhone and the iPad get an overwhelming amount of media attention. Are they revolutionary products? Yes. I’m not debating that. Is the future bright for mobile? Of course. But that’s the future, and as a company we’re focused on how we can make the biggest impact in people’s lives today (and over the next 5 years).
Did you know that one day after download, only 20% of users come back and run an iPhone app? And after a month, that number drops to 5% (chart). For us, it’s not about producing an augmented reality app that people won’t use but will get us covered by the press. It’s about measureable impact. It’s about disrupting the way people shop online today, and providing them with a significantly better experience. On computers we can do that. On mobile devices, we can’t.
What do you think? Are we right? Wrong? As always, you can find me on twitter here.
The whole team here at Zugara is very excited to finally be able to tell you about an R&D project we partnered with Orange Silicon Valley on: “Project DocPAL”, an augmented reality telemedicine system that uses natural user interfaces, Interactive Voice Recording, and other innovative technologies to help improve the quality of doctor patient consultations (please see the video below).
One of the pieces of emerging technology that Project DocPAL utilizes is our proprietary ZugSTAR software. ZugSTAR allows people in different locations to have shared Augmented Reality experiences from within their video feeds. For this project, it’s a Doctor and a patient. For our ecommerce augmented reality software, it would be two (or more) shoppers. The use cases are somewhat endless.
For several years now, we’ve talked about how augmented reality will ultimately change people’s lives, and how it can be so much more than just a marketing gimmick, or an overlay on your smartphone’s video feed. Hopefully projects like this help people see the potential that we see in the technology. It truly is so much more than a video playing on a marker. It’s the beginning of a whole new way of interacting with data… The Natural User Interface (NUI).
We’re truly honored that the amazing team over at Orange Silicon Valley chose us as their partner, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the project below.
Video Credit: Adam Odessky, Product Manager and Software Developer, Orange Silicon Valley
Typically, we don’t use this blog as a vehicle to promote media coverage of our company or our software. This post will be an exception to the rule though because there’s a rather solid piece of qualitative data nestled in the article below. And, as you hopefully know, it’s our goal to share as much data (from our augmented reality work) as we can with you.
“’It was fun,’ Ms. Cardy said. ‘I’d never used my Webcam like that before.’
She was able to ‘try on’ the dress, using her computer screen as a sort of electronic mirror. By gesturing, she operated the virtual controls, adjusting the garment’s position, color and size, and then photographed herself to show friends. In the end, she bought the dress: ‘Seeing it on helped me decide.’“
That last sentence is a doozy isn’t it? Here’s a young woman, a “digital native”, letting us know that Augmented Reality (i.e. The Webcam Social Shopper) directly influenced her purchase decision. The technology was “fun” for her to use and she made a purchase she otherwise wouldn’t have, because of AR. Don’t look now, but I think that might be called “ROI”…
As always, if you want to discuss, please comment below or you can find me on twitter here.
Today we’re only sharing one stat, but it’s pretty compelling one (we think): Banana Flame has seen conversions on the “add to cart” button skyrocket from 1.16% to 5.38% since our Webcam Social Shopper was integrated. That means roughly five times as many people are now adding items to their cart thanks to WSS.
What do you think? Are stats like the one above proving that there’s real ROI in augmented reality?
I’d love to hear your thoughts below, or you can find me on twitter here.
A few weeks ago, we integrated our Ecommerce Augmented Reality Software into every product detail page on Banana Flame’s site. Now, data is obviously important to our business, but it’s our position that it’s also important to the entire Augmented Reality community. “It’s cool, but where’s the ROI? Do you have any data?” is something everyone that works with AR has heard. Unfortunately, most companies are tight-lipped about the numbers they’re seeing. Which is a shame, because as an industry it’s data that will help us to drive past being seen (by others) as a “gimmick”. It’s data that turns potential clients into “buyers”, and it’s data that gives investors the confidence to “open their checkbooks”…
Unique visitors that add an item to their cart are up 182%.
Some Engagement Metrics For WSS (On Banana Flame):
The average shopper spends 5 min 08 secs with WSS.
39% of shoppers click on the WSS “See How It Looks” button (on the product detail page).
45% of shoppers that use WSS take a photo.
17% of shoppers that take a photo download it to share via email.
does not include Facebook or Twitter sharing.
The average shopper takes 3 photos.
79% of shoppers allow flash to access their webcam.
2% of shoppers deny flash’s access to their webcam.
75% of shoppers actively use WSS’s Motion Capture Interface.
Please feel free to share this data with anyone that might be interested, and do keep an eye on this blog too. Since the launch of Banana Flame we’ve signed several new clients and we plan on using this platform to share as much data as we can.
As always, if you want to discuss, please comment below or you can find me on twitter here.
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.