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New York - 02 Jul 2012: IBM (NYSE: IBM) Research scientists today announced a first-of-a-kind augmented reality mobile shopping app that will make it possible for consumers to pan store shelves and receive personalized product information, recommendations and coupons while they browse the aisles.
Upon entering a store, consumers download the app on their smart phone or tablet, register, and create a profile of features that matter to them -- from product ingredients that will inflame an allergy, to whether packaging is biodegradable. When they point the device's video camera at merchandise, the app will instantly recognize products and, via augmented reality technology, overlay digital details on the images -- 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, a shopper looking for breakfast cereal could specify they want a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers -- and on sale. As the shopper pans the mobile device’s camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented shopping app will reveal which cereals meet the criteria and also provides a same-day coupon to entice consumers to make a purchase.
The app, being developed by IBM’s Research lab in Haifa, Israel, addresses the fundamental gap between the wealth of readily available product details on the Web that in-store shoppers don't have access to – despite the fact that in-store shopping accounts for more than 92% of the retail volume, according to Forrester Research(1).
Retailers will be able to use the app to build in-store traffic by connecting with individual consumers, turning marketing into a welcomed service that is not intrusive. The app can make it easier for retailers to understand consumers' likes and dislikes and offer related products in other aisles, such as bananas or milk, to accompany a cereal purchase. Loyalty points and digital coupons become more convenient for shoppers, freeing them from the hassle of searching for discounts.
“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.”
How it works
Upon entering a participating store, consumers download the augmented reality mobile app to their smart phone or tablet. Once they register, identified by either their telephone number or their loyalty cards, they create or update a profile of preferences. This simple, one-time setting will allow shoppers to receive personalized service to address dietary needs, pricing, environmental or religious preferences that is instant generated – like low-salt, sugar-free, local grown, kosher food, etc. The video camera on the mobile device will be able to recognize products according to shapes, colors and other features using advanced image processing technologies. The retailer's back-end system, comprised of IBM Smarter Commerce software, will deliver information to the mobile device, where advanced augmented reality technologies overlay the information on the product images.
Beyond helping consumers, this new app is expected to bring great value to retailers, serving as a natural platform for them to interact with their customers at the point when purchasing decisions are made. Aside from the ability to suggest up-sell and cross-sell offers in the store itself, retailers will have the opportunity to gain invaluable insight that can help optimize floor plans and product arrangements in their stores.
Photo is available via the Associated Press Photo Network and on the Internet at Feature Photo Service’s link through http://www.newscom.com
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