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Brief Published: 30 Jan 2014

Marcus Fairs: Perceptions of Reality

Marcus Fairs

Marcus Fairs, founder of design and architecture website Dezeen, highlighted the retail opportunities promised by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) at a lunchtime seminar in London this week.

Speaking at London department store Selfridges’ Festival of Imagination, Fairs argued that digital technology is morphing our perceptions of what is real and what is artificial. He explored how retailers and designers are harnessing the technology’s potential to create exciting new products and fresh store spaces that enthral shoppers. “In the future, there’s a potential for a new kind of interior – one which isn’t really there,” he said.

Dezeen has created a concept store inside Selfridges for the Festival of Imagination. As well as showcasing new manufacturing methods and product formats, The Imagine Shop also uses the latest AR technology to trial new ways of retailing products – including a virtual watch store and a stand displaying a virtual super yacht, on sale for £300m ($497m).

Fairs spotlighted three technologies he believes will radically impact product design and retail in the future:

  • 3D Printing: Fairs urged retailers to make the store space kinetic with in-house robotic manufacturing. Automatic engraving can create unique products, while robotic signage could offer personalised store welcomes.
  • Augmented Reality: Used in conjunction with projection-mapping software, AR can allow customers to experiment with the colour and style of a product, without the need for expensive prototypes.
  • Virtual Reality: Unlike AR, VR has the potential to create a completely immersive experience. “[It] takes away reality and presents us with a totally virtual world,” explains Fairs. Technology like this has the potential to turn stores into fully experiential brand hubs.

The Festival of Imagination runs until the end of January 2014. To learn more about the latest innovations in AR, see Augmented Reality Summit 2013. Meanwhile, for more cutting-edge store technology, see Industry Trend Future of the Store.