Introducing Obsess, a merchandising and shopping solution for the spatial computing age. Available now on Magic Leap World.
In November 2018, we launched our Independent Creator Program to help spur the development of cutting edge spatial computing experiences.
The brief was simple: tell us your best development idea and we’ll help make it happen.
We were thrilled to receive more than 6,500 entries, from location-based experiences and spatial computing gaming concepts, through to ideas that could revolutionize the future of enterprise. After careful deliberation, we selected those projects that would really benefit from our development support and guidance.
As more finalists publish their experiences to Magic Leap World, we’ll be sharing their thoughts about developing for Magic Leap 1.
Obsess is a recent finalist to publish - it brings the merchandising process into the digital age. With Obsess, retailers will be able to set up fully virtual stores for shoppers as well as easily iterate on potential store layouts. Shoppers will be able to “download” stores from Magic Leap World and shop retail in their homes. Retailers will be able to “download” various retail store layouts complete with mannequins, clothing and accessories.
We chatted with Obsess CEO Neha Singh to find out about the application’s origins, capabilities and future plans.
How did Obsess begin?
I founded Obsess because I was frustrated with the online shopping experience as a consumer. As someone who loves shopping and loves fashion, I found the e-commerce interface – scrolling infinitely through a grid of thumbnails on a white background – extremely boring and tedious. Infact, the interface hasn’t changed much in the past 25 years when it was originally designed to merchandise books. When I learnt about spatial computing technologies and tried on a device, my first thought – I’m not a gamer – was that this medium could make the shopping experience so much more enjoyable!
Your app focuses on consumer behavior, the idea that consumers want experiences, not just information - what observations led you to that conclusion?
Experiential e-commerce is expected to be one of the 4 main factors that will drive the growth of fashion e-commerce (and the shift from offline to online) over the next 4 years – according to the Shopify 2019 E-commerce Report.
What problem does it solve?
Today’s information based e-commerce interface – essentially a database on a webpage – is great for directed shopping – when you are looking for something specific. It’s not suited for hedonic shopping – when you are browsing for inspiration and the enjoyment of the shopping process itself, which actually leads to higher spend than directed shopping. Currently, that behavior primarily happens offline and is not captured in e-commerce. Obsess is creating a new interface for online shopping, focused on discovery and memorable experiences.
Describe some use cases for Obsess. How could it be used?
- For shopping at home – discover brands and products in fun immersive experiences instead of scrolling through a grid.
- At retail stores – Magic Leap can be used to extend the real estate of the store to be infinite. Empty shops can house multiple brands all visible virtually through the headset. Retailers with existing stores could use it to show inventory they are not carrying at the store. Getting more efficient with physical real estate will help one of the biggest problems facing the retail industry today.
- For visual merchandising – retailers can simulate and test in-store merchandising set-ups virtually, without having to go through the expense of physical buildout.
Why was Spatial Computing the right approach? What does it allow you to do that previously wasn’t possible?
Spatial Computing enabled us to make the shopping experience immersive and more true-to-life. Real life is 3D and our brains are wired to think in 3D. It makes for a more intuitive and natural shopping experience to see products in 3D and to see their interaction with the real world which is where you will be using the products. Also, online, every product in every category looks the same size, but with spatial computing, you can see products in their true size relative to each other.
Why did you decide to develop for Magic Leap One?
We had developed previously for VR headsets, but had mainly done AR on mobile. We decided to develop on Magic Leap 1 to see what a fully immersive spatial experience can feel like.
Tell us about some of the challenges you overcame during product development.
Our biggest challenges during the development of our app were area detection to ensure that there was enough floor space available to bring up the pop-up store. And as our app does outfit styling, it was to match the garment 3D models to fit on the mannequin 3D models!
How will spatial computing disrupt shopping as we know it?
For e-commerce, spatial computing will make the product discovery process much more engaging and enable consumers to get closer to the purchase decision. You will see products in 3D, at real-life scale and context. You will see more interesting merchandising and environments for product display. You will see unique online shopping experiences that reflect a brand’s aesthetic and inspiration – which will get higher product and brand recall, and build brand loyalty.
For retail stores, spatial computing fundamentally changes the requirements of real estate. It will enable retailers to get more efficient without the need for a large physical footprint. It will give consumers the ability to experience products in a store without them having to physically exist there – endless virtual aisle. Different departments can exist in the same physical space. Even different brand stores can exist in the same physical space. In-store merchandising will be able to be dynamically updated and personalized.
Doug Stephens, a retail futurist, said it best in this article: “The days of pointing and clicking at pictures on a screen will come to an end within a decade. But while seemingly invincible today, Amazon, like Sears before it, will eventually be overtaken by new platforms that completely redefine what shopping is. Technologies like Magic Leap’s mixed reality will open a new chapter in experiential e-commerce. We will “travel” to virtual places where we can contextually and viscerally trial the products we’re looking for. We will not buy from online “stores,” as we do today, but rather from within online experiences that are exciting, entertaining and fun”.
Will applications of spatial computing be an every-day part of physical and online shopping in 5 years?
In 5 years, I definitely think so. Shopping is an area where the experience can improve so drastically with spatial computing over what it is today – that all the applications are there, just waiting for the hardware to get there!