Shop Bots And Augmented – The New Norm

From Katy Perry to robots selling ice cream, here are five things in tech that happened while you were on the beach. Tech doesn’t stop for the summer and, lucky for you, neither do we. Our weekly [retail bytes] summary will keep you up to speed.

Katy gets real: Katy Perry has forsaken summer frolics on the beach to do a filming session that explores Augmented Reality with W Magazine. You can engage in interactive media by downloading their Beyond the Page app, where you can scan the whole article and see Katy come to life in a 360-degree panoramic creation. For those unlucky souls who don’t live in LA or NY, where the mag mostly sells, you can order it here or hunt for it at bigger newsagents in London (try the brilliant Wardour News in Soho) and Amsterdam. Katy is following in the steps of Kate Moss, who appeared in a VR piece launching Charlotte Tilbury’s new fragrance Scent of a Dream and both have raised the bar for VR-keen fashionistas. Good to see ladies pioneering new media! Check it out: Katy Perry at her AR best.

Facebook face-down time with YouTubeYouTube has ruled the waves with their vloggers and ‘authentic’ content since 2006, but Facebook is now kicking off its own service, called Watch. A bunch of new, specially commissioned shows and the permission to sell ads on them are now in place to lure creators from YouTube. The streaming scene is getting even hotter with Disney coming off Netflix and entering streaming with its own shows as well, creating a real battle of the media titans. Retailers will need to watch out, as the same audience will now split into different platforms – the complexity of media buying has just gone up (again). 

Look mum no laces!Nike is launching a lace-less design, replacing its top traditional lace with a thick elastic band on the top of the foot. It’s all very Back To The Future if you ask us. The sole is still a VapourMax segmented unit with FlyKnit tech finishing the look. This is not the first attempt at a lace-less shoe, with Adidas trying out their football boot design a while ago. PureControl Ultra Boost was not exactly successful, though, so the jury is still out on whether laces’ loss is elastic tape’s gain.

NightShifts bots plans: Wheelys Café provides a café-on-a-bike kit for wannabe entrepreneurs and is claiming over 800 have been sold already. Now the company has opened a stand-alone store in Shanghai, where no staff are onsite to mind the shop. Instead, the customers download their app, which allows them to enter the store (the door opens following a signal from the app) and do their shopping by just scanning the product’s barcode and paying via the app. Video cameras provide security and, so far, the customers like it. It’s not dissimilar to fridge vending machines we’ve seen in rural Switzerland, where people living near farms can buy eggs and cheese day and night without going into a store. Ideas like these are good solutions for night-time opening hours when you just need that cheese fix at midnight.

Ice cream in the age of robots: Vending machines and robot service is all very well when you’re buying packaged goods and fashion products like t-shirts and socks. Those can be bought from vending machines and staff-less stores. But how do you deal with a bot selling ice cream in a cone or individual pieces of cake or fruit? A ‘gripper’ can help: it’s a combination of a gripping automated hand with a soft touch and a cable-free robot. Produced by Danish company On Robot, the grippers are used not just to replace humans but also as part of collaborative work – Danes call it a ‘co-bot’ to emphasise its support function to retail workers or manufacturing staff. The future is here, and it can handle your pistachio ice cream. Phew!

An Upcoming and Unmissable Digital Event: This year’s Animation Festival in Viborg, Denmark (25 September – 1 October) will celebrate Japan and their passion for manga, anime and all things cute (kawaii) and epic (epikku). The Immersion Game Expo (28-30 September) will run alongside the fest and will prove to be a treat for any digital creative.