US sports giant Nike has been awarded a patent on a design system potentially involving augmented reality – technology that overlays digital imagery onto the real world. The system would immerse users in computer-simulated environments, allowing them to customise trainers.
Nike has been empowering shoppers to customise purchases with its in-store/online initiative NikeID since 2005, giving them the ability to pick from a selection of models, fabric colours and personalised monogramming – but the experience so far has been confined to flat representations on-screen. This patent could see users customising products in-store as if in 3D, using head-mounted devices such as the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift – a wearable virtual reality (VR) helmet that transports users to other, virtual environments.
As VR, holographic and projection-mapping technologies become increasingly refined, the concept of adding malleable digital overlays onto physical objects may prove a powerful way to engage those who want the thrill of customisation, with the extra reassurance of seeing a virtual approximation pre-purchase. See The Animated Realities Reboot, Surprise & Delight section in Enhanced Retail Realities, part of our Post-Digital Macro Trend, for more on this tactic – particularly work by UK agency Display Mapper.
Other brands already indulging in VR technology include UK department store John Lewis, which has been trialling a virtual sofa simulator that displays a customer’s choice of colour, shape and fabric in 3D in-store. Read more in John Lewis: Virtual Sofa Simulator. Meanwhile, German automaker Audi is launching a new VR experience in selected dealerships that will allow consumers to browse and customise details while experiencing the sensation of sitting inside one of the vehicles. See our full blog post for further information.
For more on this concept, see Virtual Immersive Commerce from the Post-Digital Macro Trend, Immersive Brand Spaces, AR Retailing and the V-Commerce section of Future Innovations, part of our Anywhere Retailing Industry Trend.