Walmart looks to stay a head of the technology curve with a one-of-a-kind VR shopping experience.
To say Walmart has been exploring the possibilities of VR and AR technology in their stores would be a considerable understatement. The company is currently utilizing VR simulations to train employees for stressful scenarios such as Black Friday, as well as employing Spacee’s Post Mobile AR technology to create an interactive in-store display that substitutes real products with AR replicants.
The multinational retail corporation even has its own innovation and incubation lab called Store No 8, which focuses primarily on what a retail experience should feel like in the 21st Century – but the innovative endeavors don’t end here.
Earlier this year Walmart purchased Spatialand, a VR startup that focuses on creating tools for content creators that turn 2D content into fully immersive VR experiences. At that time, it was unclear how Walmart was planning to incorporate the Spatialand team into their business model.
However, it seems as though Walmart’s intentions with VR technology are starting to become clearer.
The retail superstore, which is more commonly known for its discount groceries rather than its technological endeavors, recently filed two patent applications that would give Walmart the intellectual property for a ‘virtual showroom’ shopping experience. Shoppers will be placed into a virtual version of the store where they could ‘pick up’ virtual products from the shelf and examine their labels before purchasing. If you did decide to buy, you’d simply add the item to your virtual shopping cart and pay at check out, after which you could either pick up the items from your local store or have them delivered to your home directly.
The second patent centers around a VR headset and haptic gloves specifically designed to deliver a virtual shopping experience you could both see and feel. Using the gloves, shoppers could feel haptic feedback as they hold, squeeze, and throw virtual objects. They could even hold two different items at once and feel their differences, such as as size and weight.
According to specifications in Walmart’s patent application, your Walmart VR experience would not only be visual and haptic, but it would also provide sensory feedback for smells and even mimic outdoor conditions. According to the filed patent, “The 3D virtual simulation environment can include various environmental factors such as weather-simulations, nature simulations, interior simulations, or any other suitable environment factors.” This means Walmart’s virtual store could let you experience weather such as wind, rain and snow.
Walmart is still the biggest retailer in the world according to Forbes, but with other retail giants like Amazon, Wayfair, and Alibaba exploring AR and VR shopping experiences the field is becoming crowded. Walmart is focused on continuing to provide their nearly 270 million customers worldwide with new ways to engage with brands by exploring capabilities required to be a next-generation retailer.
Image Credit: Walmart