Ask the Board – April 3, 2019 | RALPH SCHORBACH


“What role do you see VR playing in helping shape the retail experience? And can you name anyone who is doing it right?”

Technology has been creeping into everyday life.  But has it kept up in digital signage?  In a lot of aspects, I think not.  Most of us with digital signage operations still run with the basic system; screen, media player and content updates (hopefully often).  Many others run with some form of interaction, typically way-finding.  How do we take it to the next level? On this month’s question, the discussion is on VR (Virtual Reality) and its effect on retail. 

Is VR helping, hurting or a non-experience in the retail environment?  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much on the VR side to rave about.  The systems are expensive, clunky, wearables are questionable and they have to be manned since access and managing the systems are not intuitive enough … yet.  VR is in its infancy, it may seem like it has been around 10+ years, which it has, but hasn’t made it mainstream.  Most, if not all manufacturers are moving into VR or attempting their version. The names you know about and have seen are from Oculus, Samsung, HTC and even Sharper image sells a version.  

The good news, the industry seems to think VR is going to take over anything and everything in its path, seen the movie Player One yet?  VR and digital signage will work together to create immersive and powerful experiences for consumers. This also means VR doesn’t have to include the headset. Displays will and will continue attract groups of consumers creating a unique experience.  Many solutions now give 360-degree view of products or houses, or “walk-around” halls of an attraction. In my recent travels to Dubai, I was in the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, interacting with a dual joy-stick display kiosk that let me pan, tilt, zoom to views nearly 2000-feet below me and able to see a live view by looking out the window and via a digital view. The digital view gave me the option to view by day, night, time of year and year what the area looked like.  As I rotated the system, the digital image would rotate as well showing the changes of the landscape below.  Pretty cool!

Another direction, think of store greeter without the person, but a digital representation greeter tailored to age and demographics using some form of facial recognition. DSE 2018 had several great examples on the show floor and I’m sure more at DSE 2019.  With all the digital “games” on-line, how do we create a simple interactive experience, that is easy to “play”, giving product/brand recognition and after “winning” you receive a coupon for voucher for a special “something.”  Isn’t that what all the marketing campaigns try to do? Mobile is another way to push the message without a lot of expense and can be done anywhere. 

I might be to old school to see the benefits of VR immediately, but the future is coming faster than we think and I want to see it in 360-degree 3D vision.

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IT Manager

End User Council

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