Amazon Mirror sets bar for online and offline retail

Amazon headquarters Seattle
Amazon's new Mirror is another step forward in retail's AR and VR technologies.

It seems Amazon has applied for a patent on a new virtual reality experience that will allow consumers to try on clothes in a mix of virtual locations.

The marketplace's blended-reality mirror is a step up from its previous Echo Look camera and is being tested by an invitation-only group of consumers. The technology allows users to take a photo with the assistance of Alexa and then produces a blended-reality photo that shows the user in the chosen clothes. 

The new display would use cameras, projectors, displays, mirrors and lights that add to a moving image in real time. 

According to Michael Levine, VP of marketing at Photon, this puts Amazon another step ahead in the process of mixing AR with real-time virtual clothing. 

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Michael Levine

“Amazon continues to use innovation to drive their shopping experience," he told FierceRetail. "This patent, combined with last year's acquisition of Body Labs, is a clear indication that Amazon is trying to move from a commodity-only shopping experience to a more immersive experiential experience. By allowing the shopper to see themselves in their intended environment (through AR) wearing their chosen outfit could be a game-changer for fashion and the type of experience high-end fashion designers crave.”

Levine says that the concept of a magic mirror has been around for some time, with one of the early pioneers being Neiman Marcus. Other brands, such as L'Oreal, have used the technology as part of a mobile app. However, Amazon's technology differs in that it's trying to replicate real-world environments so that users can see how the outfits might look at a specific venue. 

Overall, Amazon using this technology will likely affect how retailers conduct in-store experiences down the road.   

"A retailer with a store component needs to create more experiential moments to continue to make the physical location important," Levine said. "With the latest advances in AR technologies that occurred in 2017, my expectations are, in 2018, we will see AR adopted more in physical retail space."

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Using AR technologies provides retailers with the ability to create boundless experiences not confined by their physical space.  

"In fact, it allows them to use their physical space to trigger these augmented reality experiences and recapture their customer in new ways," he added. 

This new Amazon adoption will also affect online retail of the future.

"We have seen many new retailing innovations and models come out and thrive—even in an Amazon world, and my expectations are online retailing will continue to evolve and survive," Levine said. "Having an Amazon to push the industry only makes the industry stronger. It weeds out the weak and slow movers and builds stronger smarter players."