Nov 29, 2016
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AI, VR and drone delivery to drive fashion shopping by 2050, says report

Nov 29, 2016

Fashion shopping will be all about technology in just over 30 years time with virtual reality and apps the norm, while physical stores might go the way of the handloom, as a result of the 'fourth industrial revolution'.

Future fashion shopping will be a series of conversations with machines, says the report

That’s the prediction in a new report, 'The Future of Shopping', by augmented reality specialist Holition.

The company says most shopping will be done from home, clothes and shoes will be ‘tried on’ in VR changing rooms and artificial intelligence-enabled shop assistants will log and remember consumers’ tastes and sizing to help those long-distance customers with anything they need.

These assistants will be able to act before the consumer knows they need something. For instance, suggesting swimwear purchases as they know the shopper has booked a beach holiday.

The company also believes this will lead to fewer problems with missed deliveries than we might expect, as drones will be able to deliver goods direct to consumers' back gardens, even if they’re not at home.

The report also said it is entirely possible that large, out-of-town retailers may move into city centres and have a small number of strategically placed destination showrooms, which will show only the best-in-class items physically, while VR shows the rest.

But while this is a long-term vision, Holition says some of the innovations are already happening and cites examples from both the fashion and beauty sectors.

It said new technology can be used as a form of reactive storytelling such as with Nike Free, an interactive running installation that tracks a workout and visualises a unique generative visual per runner.

It also said big data can be beautiful and that while the processing of dense data is typically hidden, it can be turned into something visually exciting and beautiful in a way which makes it easy to understand.

“The creation of artistic visual presentations for two fashion shopping websites Lyst and Grabble, show the enormity and scale of processing thousands of products every second. The visual was both elegant and informative which in itself became a living, moving and breathing piece of art,” the report said.

And it cited its own work with Rimmel London for the 3D make-up simulation Get The Look app, as a way the beauty sector is taking the ‘try on’ experience out of the real world and into the virtual one already.

Holition’s chief technology officer Russell Freeman, the report’s co-author, said: "It's ironic that the fashion industry is renowned for its innovation, yet the way we shop is so old fashioned. From having to use a changing room, to being offered limited space in a shop, the whole experience is generic.

"The future of shopping offers personalised experiences for people, dependent on their taste… we see it as the humanising of technology. Augmented reality, virtual reality, drone delivery and artificial intelligence will completely change the way we shop. It's an exciting time - on the cusp of a revolution.”

The report was produced in support of the Big Bang UK Young Scientists And Engineers Fair that takes place next spring.

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