04.07.12

IBM aims to improve shopping with AR application

Research scientists at IBM have unveiled a first-of-a-kind augmented reality mobile shopping app that will make it possible for consumers to pan store shelves and receive personalised product information, recommendations and coupons while they browse shopping aisles.

Upon entering a store, consumers are asked to download the app on their smart phone or tablet, register, and create a profile of features that matter to them—from product ingredients that could trigger an allergy, to whether packaging is biodegradable.

When they point their device’s video camera at merchandise, the app will instantly recognize products and, via augmented reality technology, digitally overlay meta information onto the images—such as ingredients, price, reviews and discounts that apply that day.

If consumers opt in, information from their social networks can be integrated into the information stream. For instance, if a friend had reviewed or made a comment about a product they’re looking at, they’ll see it.

Using IBM’s prototype app, shoppers looking for breakfast cereal could specify they want a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers—and on sale. As a shopper pans the mobile device’s camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented shopping app reveals which cereals meet the criteria and provides a same-day coupon to entice consumers to make a purchase.

“In the age of social media, consumer expectations are soaring and people want information and advice about the products they’re going to buy,” said Sima Nadler, Retail Lead, IBM Research. “By closing the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience, marketers can appeal to the individual needs of consumers and keep them coming back.”