Daily Dose of iQ: "Retailers Need to Care About Kinect"

Jun 08, 2012 — Allan Pulga

"(Microsoft Kinect) may just be the most significant game-changer for retail this decade, one that promises a new channel just as viable as the Web browser," wrote Chris Andrasick, CEO and co-founder of Tacit Knowledge, a digital commerce consultancy, in a guest blog post for Forbes (June 6).

Here are Andrasick's reasons why Kinect is a retail game changer:

  • Online shopping experiences that feature more images and videos of a product result in more sales -- TV is a better platform for these media than phones, laptops or PCs.
  • "People will shop in their living room if the experience is intuitive and visually compelling."
  • The mouse revolutionized PCs. Touchscreens did the same for phones and tablets. "By contrast, the TV interface has been left wanting for a similar innovative breakthrough."
  • Kinect's 3D sensitivity "affords the opportunity for more compelling experiences such as the already demonstrated capability to try on apparel virtually."
  • "The digital channels available to retailers continue to evolve, and thanks to the technology introduced in Kinect, television is the next step in this evolution."

Last week, the New York Times' Rob Walker published a long article examining "How Kinect Spawned a Commercial Ecosystem" (May 31).

In it, Walker identifies a number of recent "Kinect-centric experiements aimed squarely at the marketplace": Bloomingdale's interactive clothing sizing, Whole Foods' "smart" shopping cart's real-time product scanning, and better parallel parking technology for car manufacturers.

"An object that spawns its own commercial ecosystem is a thing to take seriously," Walker writes. "Patent-watching sites report that in recent months, Sony, Apple and Google have all registered plans for gesture-control technologies like the Kinect."

In February, Microsoft released a new version of Kinect designed to work with a Windows PC, along with a software kit to allow developers to create commercial Kinect applications (see Kinect in the Workplace).

"By March, Microsoft announced team-ups with 350 commercial partners on applications for hospitals, assembly lines, work-force training and so on, including many big corporate names, like American Express and Toyota," Walker writes.

The potential for gesture-based controls is undeniably huge. While their applications for retail in particular are yet to be determined, expect more in the way of home shopping and in-store installations in the coming months.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce, Retail Marketing

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