NEED A FRIEND? GET A BUDDY BOT

This week [retail bytes] takes a look at the latest developments in virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and smart screens – and how they’re changing the retail game forever.

The new luxury shopping experience = your sofa No need to fight the pre-Christmas shopping crowds as luxury jewellery shops are now starting to offer virtual try-ons using Oculus Rift! You can stay at home and with your smart virtual reality glasses, champagne in hand, and try on rings, bracelets and earrings with remote touch as new interfaces come online. We played with Dior Eyes and loved being able to ‘walk around’ Dior’s backstage catwalk, but virtual touching and trying on products is the real deal. Watch the video, as the future of remote shopping is here – au revoir, Bond Street!

Say hello to your new Buddy Dreading that trip to IKEA? How about making a call from your sofa and sending a friendly robot to do your pick-and-pack for you? A new robot assistant called Buddy will be launching in early 2016 to help you with remote shopping. As a cute-but-competent robot assistant Nuddy was initially aimed at home users, but we can safely predict that the best use will be in shops. The running cost of a simple robot helper is estimated at about 70% of the human version so get ready for shop-with-your-Buddy stores.

For Jurassic World lovers Having trouble recruiting multilingual staff? Japan’s Henn Na hotel has solved the problem by recruiting, you guessed it, robots. The new hotel is staffed by a dinosaur, a doll-like robot and a few luggage bot-boys, all running on artificial intelligence software, which lets them learn about your habits and predict your next wish. The robots can guide you around the hotel, help with storing luggage (using a robotic arm so far used in car manufacturing) and of course take payments. It will recognise your face, assess your mood and deal with your needs with a smile. Dino 1: Humans 0.

Goodbye annoying estate agents! Next up for the chop is your local estate agent, as iBeacons begin to spread to the streets and they can provide on-the-spot info to potential house buyers via smart sale boards! At the moment it’s only useful for the big chains that can persuade customers to download the app on their phones, as iBeacons will only ‘talk’ to an enabled app, but if you’re one of the brands that has over 250,000 app downloads get in touch – a London-wide pilot for iBeacon messaging in public places is in the works via Zappit.

Take a walk on the styled side For those looking at smart glasses solutions for retail, the new kid on the block is a pair of smart headphones. The dorky look of Google Glass is all but gone – instead the white, slick headphones have a camera on the side that only comes down when needed, for customer face recognition in-store or for a transparent driving directions display (it has GPS!). Ora-X has a neutral look, motion sensor, Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth and a mic so you can make calls hands-free. Early Christmas present anyone?

Get in touch @EvaPascoe to take part in the London iBeacon pilot!