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Brief Published: 26 Apr 2013

IBM’s Augmented Reality Shopping Assistant


A research wing of multinational technology company IBM based in Haifa, Israel, has created an augmented reality (AR)-based shopping app dubbed the Augmented Reality Shopping Assistant. The app is poised to help supermarket chains bring some of the benefits of online shopping – such as access to consumer reviews, product comparisons and product suggestions based on the shopper’s past purchases – to the in-store experience.

On entering a supermarket, consumers input details about the product they are seeking (such as type of product, preferred price range or ingredients). When subsequently holding their smartphones up to store shelves, using the device’s built-in camera the app will recognise products and identify those that fit the user’s specifications.

As they scan across the shelves, relevant coupons and promotions are also streamed to them via the app. The app can also generate product comparisons by pulling up similar products and highlighting those that are on sale or fit a price requirement the shopper inputted earlier.

The suggestion is that supermarkets would offer the app to shoppers as part of their brand’s loyalty programme, and therefore also control where the app sources its product reviews and information. Supermarkets could choose to pull this information from manufacturers, social media sites or independent product review sites.

IBM began testing the app at an unnamed UK retailer in 2012 but has not confirmed a store partnership at this time. In addition to providing information that helps shoppers make faster purchasing decisions, the app will arm supermarkets with valuable data about shopper preferences and store traffic patterns.

For more on AR-enabled retailing, see the following reports: Augmented Reality Retail, Holition: The Interview, GoldRun & Augmented Reality Retailing, The Gamification of Retail, our coverage of 2012’s Augmented Reality Summit in London and the Power of Play Industry Trend.

IBM Haifa Research Lab