THE BLOG

No More Malls: 5 Disruptive Techs Transforming Retail

06/09/2014 05:39 pm ET | Updated Aug 09, 2014

Five technologies are converging to transform the retail shopping experience forever.

This is big. This isn't Amazon, it's Amazon x100. Very social, very local and very efficient.

This will impact multiple industries.

Though it applies to other retail, the example I'll share in this email is clothes shopping -- specifically, a new approach that will give you back massive amounts of time in your life and make the experience fun, fast and super-personalized.

Gone are the wasted hours in dressing rooms or combing through racks and finding nothing in your preferred size or style.

The five converging technologies are:

  1. 3D imaging
  2. Body-motion sensors
  3. Virtual reality headsets
  4. Virtual worlds
  5. Big data & AI

Let me give you a glimpse of the future.

Of course this doesn't just hit clothing. It hits every element related to retail, like buildings, labor and transportation.

First, let's look at the experience, and then we'll examine the tech behind it.

THE FUTURE RETAIL EXPERIENCE:

Here's one future of clothes shopping...

You won't drive to a store. Ever.

Eventually, clothing stores will go away, dematerialized and significantly demonetized -- just like Amazon has done to most bookstores.

Your body is scanned and the data file is private. It's your exact body on that exact day.

You put on your VR goggles, and appear in a virtual store. Zero time to get there. No traffic, no parking hassles, no walking across the mall to get to the store.

You enter YOUR personal clothing store. Everything in this store is your exact size. Everything fits. The store has every designer and every design on the planet. Forget "re"tail - this is "me"tail.

Your friend, who you called a few minutes ago, joins you via their VR headset, and he or she sees everything you see. The experience is social and fun.

You voice what you're looking for: "Red high-heeled shoes to match my new dress, which has a long black skirt." Suddenly (think the movie Matrix), racks of perfectly fitting products appear like magic.

You can ask an AI advisor (online and listening) for help. Presto, a fashion show materializes before your very eyes. Every model walking down the runway looks like you and is wearing a different combination of clothing.

When you see an outfit you like, you just point and instantly, your virtual self is wearing it. No frustration of getting undressed or dressed. Mirrors all around allow you to see your virtual self from every angle.

As you move in real life, your virtual reflection the mirror moves in exact sync. It feels and looks just like you are looking at yourself in the mirror.

You wonder aloud how these virtual shoes would look with a particular blouse in your closet at home. No problem: every piece of physical clothing you own in the real world is also available for you to wear in this virtual world. You ask, and instantly you're wearing it.

When you're done, and you have the exact, perfect clothes you need, you pay the bill and your clothes arrive the next day. (And, if the warehouse or robotic manufacturer is local, perhaps the same day.)

Oh, and by the way, the cost for an outfit is at least half of what they are today -- no middle man.

THE TECH BEHIND IT:

Let's begin with 3D imaging. It's now possible to have your body 3D imaged from head to toe at a sub-millimeter accuracy, showing every ripple of muscle or cellulite, to allow the perfect-fitting jeans or shoes.

How? This technology is breaking out (from deceptive to disruptive) right now. First, it may be derivatives of Microsoft's Kinect, or Google's new Project Tango. As Google demonstrated in February, this technology gives smartphones the ability to do realistic 3D mapping. Your phone will be able to create 250 million 3D measurements per second to build a 3D model.

Next, body motion sensors. Imagine wearing low-cost, lightweight sensors that pick up your body's precise movements and replicate them perfectly in a virtual world. As you raise your arms, twirl around, flex your muscles or do your best runway walk, the sensors gather real-time data and reflect those movements in a virtual world.

This technology exists. Developed originally for the video game world, PrioVR came out of, naturally, a successful Kickstarter campaign. See PrioVR in action here: www.priovr.com

Next, let's consider the future of virtual reality worlds. In past blogs I've mentioned my friend Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life. His new company High Fidelity is working towards creating virtual worlds with the fidelity of James Cameron's movie Avatar. Remember how beautiful and real that animation looked? Imagine stepping into that world from your living room.

The next piece of tech is the Oculus Rift VR headset -- virtual reality goggles you wear to enter into a virtual world. I recently wrote about this company, started by Palmer Luckey. Just 18 months after a $2.5 million Kickstarter campaign in Aug 2012, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion. From what I've seen, their next generation of headgear, DK2, is nothing less than spectacular. Check it out here: www.oculusvr.com

Big data and artificial intelligence are the final pieces of converging technology. Imagine data on every piece of clothing available in the world, and artificial intelligence (think IBM's Watson) able to understand and advise you on fashion and fashion trends.

HOW YOU CAN LEARN MORE:

So that's it: A glimpse at clothes shopping in the future.

This is the sort of content and conversations we discuss at Abundance 360 -- the convergence of technology leading to the dematerialization, demonetization and democratization of products, services and industries.

How would you prepare your business and your family if you knew what the future would look like today?

If you'd like personal coaching from me on this and want to learn more, head to www.a360.com. And if you want a deep dive into any of these technologies, consider coming to Singularity University's Executive Programs.

Share this email with your friends, especially if they love to shop or are in the retail industry.

We are living toward incredible times where the only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.

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