Babolat Smart Racket

This week we look at how new tech is shaping the retail of tomorrow, with cheerful avatars that don’t need the human touch, smart rackets that could replace a human coach, kickable robot dogs and more…

Airport hologram
Humans: 0 Airport Avatars: 1 Desperate to get people to remove bottles of water from their luggage before security, UK airports have deployed semi-interactive avatars that seem to be more persuasive than posters or humans. Airports reported a 5% drop in the number of bottles removed during security checks, and a similar reduction in frequent-flyer queue rage. Shopping malls are also looking to improve information services, replacing humans with friendly and always-on avatars. High time too, as last Saturday the queue at the info desk in Westfield London was about 20 minutes.

Amazon delivery drone
Delivery drones (temporarily) grounded Whilst customer service is being taken over by avatars, parcel couriers have been (temporarily) saved from being replaced by drones. The latest FAA ruling postulates that drones can only be used in people-free zones and the pilot must keep them in line of sight. Drones can still be used by rescue services to deliver supplies to avalanche victims in Alps, but not so much Amazon courier drones in Surbiton, which would need to fly over pedestrians to get to your house. Couriers live to fight another day, at least until Amazon deploys its admirable lobbying power on the FAA to relax the rules.

Robot Dog
Robot Spot To The Rescue Drones are out, but the delivery business may be about to get a helping hand from robot dogs, developed for all terrain action including deep snow and running up hills. They are controlled via remote, and have sensors that allow them to avoid people, so are likely to be classified as ‘safe’ to deliver post for your neighbourhood. Watch the video for the latest updates from robot dog leaders Boston Dynamics.

Babolat Smart Racket
What a racket Tennis coaches are next in line to be replaced by a cute app from Babolat, the French tennis racket manufacturer. The Internet of Things becomes useful at last as the Babolat racket is fitted with a bunch of sensors that monitor your play and send data to the app on your phone. The UI sucks, as does the price point, but it certainly made me consider the potential of sensors for self-learning in sports. Never mind wristbands and wearables, it’s ‘playables’ that sports companies and sportswear retailers should be thinking about. If you want to try but don’t like the price, try Zepp for a less fancy (and heavier) sensor.

Eiffel Tower Selfie
A very human affair It’s not sports events, but tall buildings and bridges that are the best selfie backgrounds, as a search of Instagram reveals. We’re obsessed with letting the world know that we (and millions of others) made it to the Eiffel Tower (10,700 selfies), Big Ben (8,700) or London Bridge. However 333,379,034 selfies have us as the main attraction, and use the simple hashtag #me. A mere 80,000,000 of us need nothing more than a new dress as an excuse for a selfie, using the hashtag #fashion. Selfies, it seems, are still very much a human affair.

Save the date
Join us to find out What’s New in Social Media for fashion and sportswear on Thursday 23rd April in Central London, where we’ll be looking at the latest tools for cranking up your Klout ranking. For more information please contact us hello@theretailpractice.com