Carphone Warehouse Embraces Augmented Reality Retail Solution

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There are more than 200 end points in strategically placed Carphone Warehouse stores across the U.K., making this the largest permanent ‘Augmented Reality’ solution in retail stores. These unique installations create an immersive user experience about EE’s mobile network but also capture real-time data.

Nominating Company: Intel Retail Solutions Division, Shannon, County Clare, Ireland
Venue: Carphone Warehouse Oxford Street, London, England
Project: Carphone Warehouse Augmented Reality Solutions
Category: Immersive Environments

BACKGROUND
The augmented reality solution was developed by EE, Intel and SkratchAV to be installed in the Carphone Warehouse U.K. retail estate during H2 2015. The solution is being installed at 200 stores for a period of three years as part of a joint business agreement between Dixons Carphone and EE.

The main objective for the solution was to develop an innovative and engaging retail solution that provides a first-class brand presence to increase awareness about the EE brand for both Carphone Warehouse staff and shoppers.

The outcome was a best-in-class retail execution for Carphone Warehouse that operates using augmented reality technology – the first permanent retail solution of its kind – to engage and educate shoppers on the brand and the benefits of being an EE customer.

CHALLENGES
The application was created on a MAC by a third party, and no thought went into economizing cost or size of the rollout PCs.

The application requires a GTX750 graphics card to be married to an Intel Core i7-4790 motherboard. These components were costly and created physical size difficulties within the confines of the final finished product.

The entire estate required a real-time monitoring system that would work with the pre-developed application. Again, no thought was given during the development phase of the application as to how the two systems would integrate, and this caused concerns with the deployment of content as well as retrieval of localized files containing analytic data. A suitable monitoring system was required, and a dedicated script was investigated in order to pull and push data over the client’s network without disrupting the application or the client’s systems.

SOLUTIONS
Motherboard and graphics card trials elevated space by using an ITX motherboard, but the graphics cards remained as tests with other cards or risers became unreliable and heat became a concern.
Intel’s technical experts helped to overcome the problems we faced by testing the application to determine the demands placed upon the relevant components for which highlighted a high demand on the CPU and power consumption. Further efforts to adjust the application were short but time would not allow changes and so the power supply specification was raised and further cooling measures introduced to combat the effects that the highly demanding application brought on the system.

Intel’s RCM was chosen including “Mech Central” in order for Skratch to upload content, monitor and remotely diagnose/repair any system errors. We married the motherboard to an Intel chipset to enable remote bios interrogation and system restart facilities to be used within the dedicated dashboard.

RESULTS
A positive impact was seen across a number of areas. In-store, it met and exceeded the objective of providing a fantastic brand presence and experience. The solution educates and engages both store staff and shoppers on the network and its customer benefits so EE is firmly established as the number-one mobile network of choice in Carphone Warehouse.

The content management system powered by Intel provides the ability to update the content on a regular basis to keep the communications and education fresh but it also provides the ability to track shopper usage and provide insights for future software development over the lifespan of the solution.

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