Tech Spotlight: AT&T brings virtual reality to stores

Retailers are testing the virtual reality waters, and AT&T is rolling out VR in partnership with Samsung Electronics to give shoppers a more immersive experience.

As of Feb. 19, 133 AT&T stores in 37 states will have a Samsung Gear VR by Oculus that lets users virtually experience a Carnival Cruise.

The program is basically an advertisement for the cruise line, but it is among the first VR experiences available to a public being treated to news stories and reviews, all extolling the virtues of this iteration of VR.

"Our customers know they can come to an AT&T store to experience the future of a connected life," said Brian Shay, president, retail sales and distribution for AT&T. "We couldn't pass up the opportunity to show it off."

The Samsung Gear VR is designed to work with Samsung's Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ and Note5, all sold at AT&T stores. Mobile devices deliver the content, and the headset plunges users into the immersive experience.

The content was developed by Carnival, and shoppers will be able to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a seven-day cruise. While select stores will offer the full VR experience, another 1,100 stores will have the content available for customers to demo on the Gear VR headset.

Retailers are experimenting with VR in a variety of ways. SapientNitro showed off a virtual store at NRF's annual conference and expo in January, complete with shoppable content. Users simply focused on an item through a VR headset, then pricing and product information appeared in the view.

Lowe's showed off a Holoroom at the International CES in January, where VR was among the most buzzed-about technologies. The home improvement retailer is using a virtual product platform by Marxent called VisualCommerce to help shoppers connect smart home devices.

Holoroom is an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool meant to help shoppers design kitchens and bathrooms with 3D representations of Lowe's products using an Oculus Rift in stores and Google Cardboard at home.

For more:
-See this AT&T announcement

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