More than meets the eye: augmented reality at Selfridges

A yacht might not be on your shopping list, yet a watch, on the other hand, is a rather common purchase. “Imagine,” a pop-up shop by design and architecture magazine, Dezeen, at Selfridges department store in London, uses these two different items to demonstrate how the use of augmented reality could transform your shopping experience in the future. In this set-up, tablets take on a key role.

In Dezeen’s store of the future, which was realized in cooperation with 3D visualization company, Inition, shoppers can try on different designs from a virtual Dezeen Watch Store by attaching a wrist band and holding it in front of a tablet camera. Upon choosing different models and colors, watches are displayed virtually on the customer’s arm onscreen. Never mind how it works, it is the result that counts, and this technology lets consumers experience products ‘virtually’ while enhancing ‘reality’ with essential information such as features and prices.

This interactive technology becomes particularly clear in the case of the life-size walk-around digital model of Zaha Hadid’s superyacht: A tablet camera picks up a code from a screen upon which a 3D model of the yacht is being displayed. Using a tablet is vital to allow the live video feed to be activated via the camera. Selfridges’ “Imagine Shop” uses Bouncepad Lounge models for this purpose, as they are easily be picked up and moved around. For the virtual watch store, fixed iPad floor stands are used to secure tablets for the ‘trying on’ experience. The trend to augment ‘real world’ experiences is not restricted to the retail sector. Augmented reality can be applied in many different industries, such as leisure and entertainment. In essence, whenever customers and users want to learn more, experience more or be entertained more engagingly beyond the physical, tablet enclosures play an essential role in securing and presenting the technology in an accessible, appealing way.

Another example of a tablet installation that enhances the user experience with digital content can be found in London’s Olympic Park, where visitors can virtually cycle through the park using a movable iPad kiosk. Or take the London Eye, where rail mounted tablets are installed so that visitors can use a panorama app to zoom into aerial pictures to find out more about the surrounding landmarks. Last but not least, Volkswagen deploys tablets at trade shows to make a virtual city come to life. The imagination of innovative marketing departments is no longer frustrated by lack of technology solutions. It’s just the opposite – everything can be augmented.