2012.19 | More New Interfaces

Leap Motion Gesture Control – The upcoming release of Leap’s new controller device may be the interface that finally keeps LCD screens clean. Using optical technology, this iPod sized box provides users the ability to control a PC or Mac with gestures in the air instead of a keyboard, mouse or touchscreen.

Initial reviews of the product indicate that the promised sensitivity is real and much more capable than the Wii and Kinect controllers that preceded  it.  It’s a novel interface, and appears to require  little or no additional programming, so we can expect to see some innovative retailer or consumer facing organization attempt to leverage the solution in a retail environment.

SnapTagsLouLou Magazine leverage SnapTags in their June Issue magazines.  The articles available indicate that readers who download the LouLou App can use the app to read the circular codes to open additional extras, like videos and other additional content.

From the information available, SnapTags appear to be a more attractive flavour of 2D or QR barcodes or Microsoft Tags.  The circles with the lines and dashes are more attractive, but the additional value beyond that is not clear to me.  The fact that many people don’t scan 2d barcodes doesn’t have to do with how they look, it has to do with the fact that every phone doesn’t have a 2d barcode reader as standard equipment as part of the camera.  If they did, I would expect to see more usage.  For myself, having one more app is not worth it to look at video or other extras, but I’m not the demographic they are looking for.  I would just read the magazine as an app with the links built in.

Microsoft Mirage Table – Working with someone remotely is increasingly useful and plausible with increased bandwidth and simple to use collaboration tools.

Microsoft recently demonstrated what they call a MirageTable that provides a more immersive experience than video chat, providing a 3D virtual interaction that allows both parties to interact with  objects  together.  This presents a potential improvement in remote sales and transactions, and many potential future applications.


2012.18 | New Interfaces for Retail

Lots of ideas around new interfaces have been showing up this month.  Here are a few notable examples:

UI Concept for Sharing Files between Devices – Check out this User Interface concept.  While this example is to move an article from one device to another, why not consider an interface like this for a digital wallet?  It would be far more intuitive for a virtual cash register to show on a tablet, and a wallet on a mobile.  The cash register ‘sees’ a customer’s mobile wallet and they can ‘slide’ some virtual cash onto the cash register.  It seems over the top, but it’s increasingly achievable.  Using a visual interface that provides a bridge from the physical interaction of today to the virtual transaction of tomorrow can add a cool factor that could drive mobile payments more than what we see today.

Projected Interactive Retail Display – We’ve all seen how Microsoft Surface is able to react to physical objects.  Perch Interactive has put together a projected display to interact with physical objects in a store – translating the experience to one that online shoppers, and one would assume the millennial types, will understand, recognize, and enjoy.  This appears to be an incredible way to provide product information and recommendations to clients.  This should work particularly well in the low light environments of Abercrombie and Fitch type environments.

Connecting Facebook Likes with Real World ObjectsC&A in Brazil have set up a Facebook page for followers to like their favourite ensembles.  Those items are showcased in stores on clothes hangers with a display that indicates the number of Facebook likes directly on the hanger in real time.

2012.17 | New Canadian Ikea & Lowe’s Apps

Check out the new apps available for Canadian consumers to use at local retailers.

Ikea Canada recently released a new shopping app for iOS to complement their current catalog app.  The app has the quirky and fun look and feel that Ikea always uses to great effect on the mobile app.

The start screen shows a number of offers.  Touch them for more details, and then be directed to applicable product.

There is also a great product lookup sorted by area that is simple to navigate and very responsive.  Products can be added to a shopping list that keeps individual prices and a cumulative total to plan your shopping trip.

My favourite aspect of the app is that when you touch an item you can see the availability of the item by location by selecting the store and even better, it tells you exactly where the item is located in store by aisle and location.

Given the size of the average Canadian Ikea store, this is a wonderful service to save time and walking!  The app wisely reminds you of the time that you checked the inventory and has a refresh button right on the page.  What a thoughtful idea.

The app provides all details on all sites, including a direct link to maps to allow users to enter their home address and get driving directions.  The app also has some direct links to useful and important information such as catalogs and product recalls.  All of the images and text are laid out in a manner very easy on the eyes in what one assumes to be a bid to make it easy to use while navigating the friendly Ikea maze.

While there is nothing here that is earth shattering, this is a well thought out and simple to use app that is appears easy to use in store.

Lowe’s Canada put out something a bit more creative last week.  In partnership with LG and Red Piston, Lowe’s Canada released an iOS and Apple App to provide an augmented reality experience with a recently released advertisement.

Users who download the Lowes Virtual Experience app to their iOS or Android device can see and interact with a a 3 dimensional virtual refrigerator, washing machine, or dryer in real time on the display of their screen as an overlay of the camera view in their current environment.

Users place the ad (you can download a copy of the ad here) on a counter top with good lighting – preferably at waist height.  With the app open, the greater part of the window displays the view from the camera.  When the User points the camera at the flyer on the counter a 3 dimensional rendering of the product associated with the ad will be shown above the ad on the screen as an overlay to the camera view.

Users can tap on small blue icons to open the doors of  the appliances.  The doors are animated to open as though the unit is really sitting on the counter in your environment.   Small green icons provide useful commentary on the benefits of the product.   If users walk around the ad, or rotate it without blocking the image on the ad, all sides of the product can examined in excellent detail.

While the app only has a couple of products to examine for the present, it’s a very clever use of augmented reality.  The app provides a big wow factor for those to whom I have shown it, and almost all feedback has been positive, saying what an interesting, novel and useful solution it is.

For those of you in Canada, be sure to download the app and the ad and give it a try. Let me know your thoughts on it!


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