Picture this: You're standing in a long winding queue outside a packed trial room in an apparel store, with each person ahead of you carrying five-six garments in their arms. You've picked out some great clothes for some steal deals and are already running late to meet someone - what do you do? Interestingly, technology solutions company TELiBrahma has an idea.
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Sports brand Nike India employed this technology recently during the FIFA World Cup 2010, where kiosks were set up in malls and people could virtually try on the team jerseys of different countries.
This is how it worked: A customer, standing in front of an LCD screen powered by a camera, saw himself on the screen and held up a card that read where the jersey had to show. Using his left hand, he could activate a motion sensor, which enabled changing of jerseys till he found one he liked. Nike allowed people to 'try on' jerseys of countries such as Brazil, Holland and Portugal.
The customer could then position himself and activate the camera by moving his right hand in front of the screen. A quick snap was taken and customers also had the option of putting these pictures on a social networking site of their choice in a matter of 10 seconds at the Nike kiosk.
In addition to this, TELiBrahma also used its popular augmented reality (AR) solution 'intARact' to create a virtual soccer game for consumers. Here, 3D motion sensors were attached to different parts of the body of a participant to create a 3D model on a TV screen that imitated the leg and body movements of the participant. When a virtual ball came their way, they could strike and score a goal.
The activity was carried out for a period of four weeks (June 11 to July 11) in 10 malls across Delhi and Mumbai, with more than a million consumers being exposed to this initiative.
PR Satheesh, president, TELiBrahma, says, "While a somewhat similar technology to the Magic Mirror is utilised more on the web, not many have tried this out at an actual user interface stage at the retail level."
Shouvik Sarkar, associate vice-president, TELiBrahma, adds, "The possibilities are limitless. Think about an apparel chain with an inventory of 500 odd garments - people messing up trial rooms like it's a rock concert! Manpower deployed to fold back those garments. Painful, isn't it? Instead, a digital trial room evokes interest, is done in a jiffy and can affect impulse purchases."
Brands that can use this technology include retailers, apparel brands, jewellery, lifestyle products and salons. Satheesh adds that the pricing depends on the solution offered. Therefore, the cost of setting up and using this technology could cost a brand anywhere between Rs 10 lakh to 1 crore.
However, with new technologies come challenges, too. Not only is the pricing somewhat steep - but are Indians ready to accept something like the virtual trial room where they'll buy clothes and accessories without actually trying them on?
Vinod Thadani, regional mobile director, India and South Asia, GroupM, says, "It really depends on what a brand wants to do and while costs play a very important role, brand activities do not always depend on pricing. Something like ad projections on buildings cost humongous amounts - but brands still do it, simply to stand out from the clutter. They could've just advertised using print but they do not want to do something tried and tested."
He adds, "Also, when it comes to costs, agencies like ours benchmark these costs according to global standards, so that technology companies do not ask for whatever they'd like."
Thadani adds that a technology like the Magic Mirror would be more suitable for a short term innovative burst to create a buzz, and not over extended periods of time.