July 17, 2023
XR Anwendungen
XR Applications
Gabriella Chihan Stanley

Next-Gen Shopping: The Role of VR, AR, and AI in the Evolution of Retail Spaces

Retail spaces are changing. People shop more online than in shops. However, there's an opportunity to transform physical retail spaces into experiential locations that reveal the brand's essence beyond the product itself, helping people create a deeper and more personal connection with brands and products. The role of advanced technologies (AR, VR) in the evolution of retail is a huge opportunity to bring new ways for clients and brands to build more profound, personalized relationships. 

We had the chance to live this retail transformation in our own skin through our most recent project developed for the decorative lighting company EGLO, a leading international manufacturer of decorative and smart lights headquartered in Pill, Tyrol. 

With EGLO, we’ve recently had the opportunity to put our technical expertise in creating groundbreaking immersive technology projects and our knowledge as storytellers, filmmakers, and digital artists to good use. All this didn’t come without its sets of challenges. At vrisch, we’re only a small family-owned studio of 8 people. We knew from the beginning that presenting ourselves for the pitch of this project would be us being the Davids amongst the Goliaths of advertising. But we learned through our 8 years of existence and by looking around us that being small and agile was what has allowed us to think differently and to approach challenges in unique ways. Our ideas have always been something special; our clients keep coming back because they can see that too. 

After what felt like a dream, we won the pitch. Now it was time to put our concepts into action. This project needed to be ready in one year. Six interactive installations, all technically different in nature and with their own set of technical challenges to overcome, each of them addressing a different need of the customer; plus, we would also be in charge of the interior architecture and shopfitting of all of them – an area of expertise that was not in our responsibility before. But we were determined to bring exciting experiences to life and enrich customers' experience in meaningful ways through advertising and immersive technologies.

Regarding technical implementation, this project arrived at a time when we at vrisch were researching several state-of-the-art advancements in immersive technologies. We were eager to find purposeful ways to use this newly acquired knowledge. And here are some of the results.

Personalized AI-powered interactive experiences for retail spaces

Lights, Camera, Action! (LCA) and Lamps vs. Zombies (LVSZ) utilize high-resolution LED displays, motion sensors, and AI-based algorithms to provide immersive and personalized experiences. Both blend technology and storytelling to create emotional bonds with visitors.
LCA generates a personalized "buddy lamp" that joyfully follows visitors' movements, while LVSZ offers a tower defense game for children, addressing their fear of darkness.

Lights, Camera, Action! © Markus Oberndorfer, Bildrecht
Lamps versus Zombies © Markus Oberndorfer, Bildrecht

Multisensory cocoons as home of VR stories

From Flame to Future: A Journey of Light provides a multisensory location-based roomscale VR experience through the use of a custom-made cocoon equipped with heat, wind, and light sensors to create immersive and interactive feedback both inside and outside the VR headset. The project offers a 6DoF linear experience with minimal interaction, incorporating hand-tracking for those who feel comfortable engaging with it. Ambisonic audio custom-designed characters, animations, and soundscores contribute to the immersive atmosphere. The innovation in this project stems from the seamless combination of architecture, interior design, and electronic engineering to create an all-encompassing VR experience for users with little to no previous exposure to VR.

Multisensory Cinema © Markus Oberndorfer, Bildrecht

Sketch your lamp in mixed reality. And bring it home in AR.

The mixed-reality sketching tool, Sketch Your Lamp (SYL) provides users with an immersive and interactive experience to design their dream EGLO lamp using groundbreaking technology. It employs a VR headset in passthrough mode, a ticket printer, and a holobox to seamlessly integrate physical and digital experiences. Users start by selecting a lamp frame, then use VR controllers as brushes to create their unique lamp design. The holobox displays the sketching process for onlookers to observe. Upon completion, users can print a QR code containing an AR representation of their lamp, allowing them to virtually place their creation in any physical space.

Sketch Your Lamp © Markus Oberndorfer, Bildrecht

Location-based VR game to help couples shop together

Light My Way (LMW) leverages passthrough mixed reality, spatial anchors, and infrared markers to create a location-based roomscale VR co-op game that offers a collaborative shopping experience. Technically, the game relies on a touchscreen and VR headset for two players to interact within a physical labyrinth. The environment is dimly lit, simulating a dark, starry atmosphere, and players must communicate effectively to solve puzzles by sharing information through their respective devices. The seamless integration of the touchscreen and VR headset enables players to influence each other's experience and view different aspects of the puzzle, emphasizing trust and communication. Producing LMW helped us find solutions to challenges, such as ensuring reliable communication between devices, synchronizing the actions of both players, and designing an immersive, engaging, and easily navigable environment.

Light my Way © Markus Oberndorfer, Bildrecht

A significant part of the success of this project was the strong allies we gathered along our way throughout the years of collaboration with the local XR communities such as XRVienna, which allowed us to contribute as professionals and also get to know XR enthusiasts from many different fields of expertise, from architecture to electronic engineering, and have the chance to meet them both as professionals and as human beings. Our partners for this project didn’t stop in Austria. We also worked with a highly talented team from Ukraine who supported us in the animation of some of the experiences. It was also a chance for us to live a piece of history by working with them in such a difficult moment of their lives. Still, at the same time, we were thrilled to have contributed to their well-being by collaborating with their financial stability in these difficult times. They were terrific partners to work with.

The path of innovation is a brave path of risk, grabbing the shovel standing at the end of the world, and starting to build a road where there was nothing but emptiness before. The best feedback we can have as innovators is seeing people walking our created path over and over again after it’s created, sometimes not even feeling like the road is there anymore because it just feels natural to walk on it every day.

Do you want to walk part of the way with us? Contact us!