Tag Archives: virtual reality

manus

Wearables: The Good, The Innovative and The Weird

With our modern day technology looking more and more like it’s headed toward a Jetson-like future, wearable technology is becoming more common, but still impressive. Below are some examples of wearable tech we are excited about:

sony smartwatch 3The Smart Watch:

There are many different types of Smart Watches on the market right now from many different tech companies, including Apple, Android, LG, Samsung and others. Displays can be color or black and white and all can be compatible with your phone. They can alert you to calls, display and send texts and a variety of other things. It’s basically a watch that can replace parts of your phone, which replaced your analog watch initially. According to Wearable.com, the best overall Smart Watch is the Sony SmartWatch 3 (pictured).

The Manus:

A huge game changer, the Manus, is the first consumer VR data-glove. Think NES Power Glove,manus but it works. The Manus was revealed at E3 2015 is expected to be released in early 2016. The glove is compatible with Android 4.4 and up, and uses Bluetooth to make the gloves completely wireless and accurate hand tracking. The software is completely open-sourced and the fingers in the glove are tracked by integrated flex sensors. Though Manus is focused on VR, the gloves can be used with any PC game that uses a mouse and keyboard, incuding The Elder Scrolls, Portal 2, and WoW and LoL with the mouse. The Manus is definitely something to keep an eye on in the coming quarters.

Smart Scarf:

SWARMThis is where wearables get weird. Microsoft’s Project SWARM (Sensing Whether Affect Requires Meditation) syncs to the SWARM app on a smartphone and heats up or vibrates based on certain modules. The Scarf is meant to be therapeutic for those with mental or physical disabilities. While the Scarf has some interesting capabilities, it seems Microsoft is trying too hard to stuff everything in it. It’s unlikely we’ll be seeing this product in Microsoft stores anytime soon.

Product Photography

The Evolution of Product Photography

Don’t you hate it when the thing you need to say is so easily summed up with a tired cliché. Well, here it goes… A picture is worth a thousand words. There, I said it. In the case of e-commerce product photography and conversion, it is an unavoidable truth. For e-commerce brands far and wide, conversion is the lifeblood and presenting potential customers with an experience that does the product full justice is the means to that lifeblood.

All of this sounds pretty obvious, but in many cases we still don’t see e-tailers using product visibility to its full potential. One reason for this phenomenon is the fact that for some brands a photograph doesn’t convey the most ideal “thousand words”.

In a recent conversation with a local running shoe startup, we uncovered an interesting pain point. They have struggled with presenting their product in a way that that says enough but not too much. For example, they had tried traditional photography practices (2-3 angles) and a short blurb about product features, but what they found was that this approach wasn’t quite sufficient for more technically inclined runners who visited the page. Their products featured some really innovative construction and materials that differentiated them greatly from brands that could, to the undiscerning eye, be seen as comparable products. That’s when this company decided to take a different approach.

They decided to reduce the number of photos and ramp up the amount of detailed technical specs on their product pages. As you can imagine, to the layperson, deciphering the “arch angle, outsole contour and its correlation to your stride” requires a couple trips to trusty Google.com. So here they were…Stuck between too much information and minimalphotographs that show the true features of a product, an all-too-common problem that many e-commerce brands face.

The answer to this problem lies in yet another tired cliché: “Show, don’t tell”. If enough product specs can be visually conveyed, then there is no need for lengthy product descriptions. The customer should experience the difference as opposed to just reading about it.

 

The Information-to-Photograph Ratio

Our CEO, Darrick Morrison, in his work with an online retailer, once was tasked with identifying the optimal “information-to-photograph” ratio. What he found was that shoppers gravitate towards visibility. In A/B testing across thousands of products in dozens of verticals, the data told an interesting story. If a product page has a single image, customers appear skeptical of the product’s integrity and value. Often times a single image won’t do a product justice and many customers pass on buying online and go to a store. This phenomenon is commonly known as webrooming.

And that’s if the sale is made at all, in other words,“cart abandonment”. According to one study, people who abandon a cart more than once are 2.6x more likely to buy. But what if the sale could be made the first time around, sooner, and with less visits back to the cart?The only exception to this study Morrison found is when it relates to products that are standardized and commoditized, for instance, toilet paper.

 

Multiple Images

Multiple shots, on the other hand, provided a huge bump in the customer’s confidence in a product, leading to a boost in the conversion rate. The fact that conversions rose was not the surprising part; the amount of the increase was astounding. When products can be viewed from multiple angles, consumers feel more secure in their expectations of the product, thus leading to a higher propensity to buy.

 

360-Degree Video

The next variable he tested was 360-degree product video. This category consists of product demonstration videos or 360-degree stitch photography, where the user can spin a product on a single axis. Again, the research found that product pages equipped with these assets saw even more of a conversion jump. From doubling to quadrupling, product videos are any business’s friend when they want to sell online. The same story was told in product returns. Returns can be a huge pain point and profit slasher for even the most established online stores. The inverse relationship between product visibility and returns allows retailers to hold onto the revenue that those increases in conversion have brought in.

 

An Interactive 3D Product Experience for E-commerce

Darrick’s findings are not just intriguing; they obviously have real business application. The next milestone for Darrick was to point out the next technology that would raise conversion, decrease returns and blow the mind of online shoppers. He asked “What would allow customers to fully interact with the product and mimic the in-store experience online?” and “What would allow the brands to provide more information for the spec-driven consumer while maintaining an optimal user interface and seamless experience?” And that’s about the time when Darrick gave birth to his beautiful new baby, prizmiq. You can read a little more about why interactive 3D product photography is good for your product from the comfort of this very blog.

 

The more comfortable a consumer is with a product, the more likely they are to buy. With online shopping forecasted to grow and grow over the coming years, it will be interesting to see how e-commerce practices evolve. Perhaps going to the mall will involve sitting down at your computer and putting on a virtual reality headset and browsing the aisles of your favorite boutique. The future of interactive online shopping is coming and coming quick…are you ready?

Dentist

The Most Boring Virtual Reality Experiences: A Trip to the Dentist

To kick off, I would love to start with an experience that already has drool dripping on my shirt, or rather, a paper bib. You guessed it: it’s America’s second favorite pastime, visiting your friendly neighborhood DDS or dental professional. The experience begins in your living room, the moment an automated voice calls your home phone (yes, the one solely reserved for telemarketers) and reminds you of your inconveniently scheduled appointment in vivid stereo audio. Screen fades to black. Now, imagine yourself in a pastel waiting room with 1998’s finest art hanging on every dreary wall. The receptionist clacks away on a keyboard as the incredibly realistic hum and bubble of a sparsely populated fish tank plunges you in this most virtual of realities.

You reach for one of the magazines you would never dream of subscribing to on the side table to your right – the pages crinkled almost like dozens have turned those very pages before.  You thumb through the pictures of holiday roast recipes despite it being early August. That’s when your full birth name is called. “How strange to hear my full name being called as I’ve gone by a nickname for most of my life,” you think. That’s when the real fun begins.

As you are guided back to the dentist’s chair, your heart flutters with jubilant anticipation of having someone scrape your teeth with a metal hook. Then, there you are, in the most stunning 1080p staring at slightly textured ceiling panels while an unforgiving florescent light bathes your eyes in its unnatural glow. This portion of the experience has no set time limit – which is the thrilling part. It’s just you, the ceiling, and the scraping noises. Occasionally, the dentist will ask you open-ended questions about your personal life or work, to which you play along and give your best answers with the back of your throat while your mouth hangs agape.

After dozens of thrilling minutes the dentist murmurs something about flossing more and just like that, you visit is over. You’re handed a lifelike bag with a new toothbrush in it and you are on your way. The picture within the Oculus slowly fades to black and the credits roll. You sigh and realize your first encounter with the most realistic virtual reality is over already.

But seriously. You do need to floss more.

Check out other “Most Boring Virtual Reality Experiences” posts. 

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The Most Boring Virtual Reality Experiences

With the ungodly 2 billion dollar investment in Oculus Rift (virtual fist bump, Mark Zuckerberg) closing a few weeks back, the layperson must begin to ponder Facebook’s vision for the future of the virtual world. The second the word “virtual reality” crosses someone’s lips, an explosion of fantasy lands and wild scenery instantly race to mind. For me I choose to interpret virtual reality on a more entertaining level: real, dull, everyday events but happening on two tiny screens in front of my eyeballs. With this definition, the possibilities for mediocrity truly are limitless!

Every week I will do my best to provide the most “realistic” virtual reality experiences imaginable, and lucky you, be sharing them with you, dear reader. I fully endorse all of these experiences as 100% humdrum and invite any audacious Oculus developer to take a stab at creating them. Enjoy.

  1. A Trip to the Dentist
  2. The Happiest Place on Earth: The DMV
  3. Sitting in Traffic

Feel free to submit your own virtual reality experiences in the comments below.