Time For Techy Traveling

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You probably didn’t think the word ‘relaxing’ had much to do with airports, airplanes and budget hotels – well read on, as this week’s [retail bytes] will teach you one or two things about how wellbeing is meeting travelling and tech this summer.

Robotic RetailLate to the airport and forgot to pack the right clothes? Uniqlo have your back with their new, slick and minimalistic vending machines selling Life Wear (well, t-shirts and light jackets but it is a start). Popping your payment card into the machine and choosing one-size-fits-all items will solve some of your holiday clothing problems when you don’t have the time or inclination to browse in one of the airport’s overpriced shops. Vending machines are also the strategy of choice for the Uniqlo USA roll-out – it’s cheaper than shops and look, no staff! Robots win again. The machines will be available from mid-August in Oakland, Houston, NY and LA.

Airport Anxiety AddressedOne in 20 Google searches are about ‘wellness’ so a French start-up founder, Papillion Luck (follow them on Twitter here), has created a new framework to turn airports (with their fast food and proximity to engine fumes) into wellness centres. Based on our own airport stress index, LAX, Schiphol and Milano Malpensa will need it the most as going to any of those pushes the old blood pressure up to dangerous levels. As part of the framework, a pack with hydration sprays and protein snack bars will be offered initially, but later this could include a membership card for access to an express blow dry, a quiet place for 15 minutes, a rowing machine session and a head massage with phone chargers on tap. Just take our money. If we can ask, could you add low-tech but high-love dog petting to the wish list?

Thync To ThinkNew anti-stress wearable devices are coming, as the numbers of travellers with airport anxiety is increasing. Enter Thync – a wearable pad that’s placed on your neck and sends electrical impulses to your brain, selecting ‘relax’ or ‘stimulate’ mode to either calm you down or turn you into a superhero coding ninja. Initial responses indicate that Thync offers more than just a placebo effect. In the next phase we’ll probably end up downloading brain-activity-enhancing code straight to a chip in your brain.

Holiday hotel dreams in ARNo money for holidays? Cash-starved Japanese couples can dream about a romantic getaway by checking into one of themed ‘love hotels’ around Tokyo’s railway stations. Thinking about a tropical escape? Hotel Balian feels just like Bali, with its luxurious scents and colonial furniture, while Hotel La Rochelle brings a whiff of saucy French sophistication with feather whips and crimson lace handcuffs casually arranged in the purple room. For those who can’t get even as far as Tokyo, an AR version will be available soon, courtesy of Disney.

Death of the selfie?: Sometimes your arm is just not long enough to take a well-composed selfie and show off your gym-sculpted body while trying on new athleisure fashion. Now Kuri the vision robot will roll around fashion stores and, when called on, come and take photos for the customers who want an answer to “does my bum look big in this?”. Cute and cuddly, Kuri is being developed by Mayfield Robotics as a voice-controlled, robotic mobile videographer for stores or your house, or even in one of the Love Hotels, as privacy is guaranteed. The photos are downloaded to the cloud, but are shared only with the person who ordered them. Caveat emptor, mind you.

P.S. Following our piece on new emojis, we got a heads-up from the omni-powerful new emoji committee that the Internet wants new emojis for racoons and lobsters, while lamas are still under debate. Send us your new emoji suggestions: eva@theretailpractice.com