VR Grocery Shopping Prototype & Concept Video

This prototype combines embodied cognition with grocery shopping in VR. It allows the user to experience data directly through their body to shop for groceries more intentionally and intuitively.

At SixerVR, we prototype and research new media formats. We wanted to know--what kind of shopping can be done in VR that would be impossible in a store? How could we totally reimagine “online” shopping using extended reality tools? When we thought about this intersection, some obvious affordances came to mind, like being able to view and handle a product in a realistic way before purchasing, or listing pricing or discounts in an instantaneous way. However, these were just ways of mimicking the real store experience as closely as possible, or improving it slightly. We wanted to go beyond this and imagine what retail formats would be native to VR.

First question: why?

First though, why redesign grocery retail? Why shop for groceries in VR anyway? To begin with, the grocery retail space is already under strain. Thanks to inroads made by the meal kit industry, Whole Foods has started reordering some displays around ingredients necessary for meals. Also, only 15% of people say they enjoy grocery shopping. Couple that with trends in recurring purchases, automated orders, home delivery and more, and we see an industry not only digitizing but transforming the way people shop and think about shopping, from grocery-as-warehouse to grocery-as-service. The following affordances are unique to VR retail, vs. conventional retail or eCommerce, and align with that shift toward providing a service rather than just accessing goods or information.

New affordances for VR Retail

New ways of experiencing data:

One great power of virtual reality is to represent complex information in a simple way. This is very important in the world of big data analytics. There is information everywhere, but there is so much of it that it is overwhelming, and it doesn’t, in the end, help us make better decisions. We chose a grocery store for our example because it is a shopping situation where many different considerations effect purchasing dynamically over time, but the product set is recognizable and routine. In a grocery store, people don’t have the time to examine complex dashboards, graphs, percentages and labels to make buying decision. However, we are forced to in order to navigate our values and needs regarding health, sustainability, and cost.

There is a lot of research about how we think with our bodies and surrounding environments, something that researchers call “embodied cognition.” We wanted to create an experience that brought this to life and showed how we could use virtual reality to create a shopping experience beyond informational popups and AR labeling. By relating complex information to a body’s natural movements, we could imagine helping people make decisions without digesting hundreds of labels.

Embedding values and data into bodily movement:

We wanted to create a filter for people that represented common purchasing considerations (nutrition, sustainability, and cost) in a creative way that wasn’t just an informational pop-up. We decided to use “reach” as this filter. Depending on how different items relate to these categories, we made them move farther away from the shopper. In other words, if you choose a nutrition filter, it moves cookies far back on the shelf, so it is literally more difficult to reach them. This is what we mean by embodied cognition--data experienced through bodily movement instead of just intellectual input. By making it physically more difficult for people to reach things that don’t relate to their values, we created an environment of choice and agency, (people can still reach the cookies if they really want to) while nudging them toward choices that align more closely with their long-term goals and ethics.

Beyond interface:

Technological innovations always happen in an interrelated way with other technologies, and VR is no exception. This prototype interface for shopping in VR would need to be connected to a complex backend for logistics and data to keep it accurate and up to date, and to actually get the items to the shopper when they’ve finished and paid. Almost no category is more complicated for this than groceries and produce, because people are going to use the food to feed themselves and their families.  Illustratively, Walmart found that gig workers aren’t sufficient to pick produce for online grocery, it actually requires full-time grocery pickers to meet shoppers’ specifications. The retail experience of the future will be comprised of virtual and analog, visible and invisible changes that will move us into an entirely transformed experience of shopping and retail.

Conclusion

Our goal at SixerVR is to think beyond “horseless carriages”— that is, to not focus on bringing old modalities into new mediums, and instead look at VR-native interaction possibilities that address latent but emerging user needs. We hope this video and article have demonstrated the potency of this way of work and research and hope you engage with us in the future.

SixerVR and Ladipoe film the first 360 music video in Nigeria

Post written by Joseph Andrews, Research Assistant at SixerVR

On Friday 9th November 2018, SixerVR did the filming for the first 360 music video in Nigeria. So far, we believe it may be the first in Africa as well (or at least we cannot find any others on YouTube).

The set was Mitsubishi Motors showroom at Ijora, Lagos. It is a large expanse of land, filled with automobiles. The air smelled of grease. 

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Before meeting the artist we met his manager, the very professional and organized Laverne Thomas. Her vast and comprehensive knowledge of the industry kept the conversation going till he arrived.

The artist Ladipo Eso, better known by his stage name Poe, is a Nigerian rapper and recording artist signed to Mavin Records. The song was Double Homicide featuring Ghost. The track was really hip and had us humming “is this about to be a double homicide”.

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The video was truly hip-hop, complete with fog, SWAT guys, guns and lasers and a trunk scene. We had two 360 cameras that we were doing the shoot with, and we took time between each scene to position them carefully, out of sight of one another. Seeing as this was new and a bit foreign. We had some challenges unique to 360 video production. As opposed to a normal setting with traditional cameras, where everyone is concentrated on the area the camera is shooting, we had to sensitize the crew to be aware of the entire 360 field of view. There were several things to keep track of: how to keep the viewers engaged, how to have the artists to always moving or doing something interesting at every angle while the recording was going on.

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On December 13th, Ladipoe will be hosting a premier in the same location. People will be able to view the final product on 360 headsets, which they will experience while sitting inside of the same cars used to film the original video. Through this, we hope to add a further level of immersion by combining real-world and VR elements.

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Dreamland VRestaurant- Eat real gourmet food in VR!

If you or your organization would like to book a group dinner with us, please reach out to schedule a reservation. A reservation includes a conventional group table dinner. Each guest will have a scheduled time slot to eat in the virtual restaurant.

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Plated dinner.

6 dishes, menu below.

Menu (subject to change):

Real food: Clementine sections with hibiscus apricot jam, radish, and nasturtium flowers.

Digital counterpart: palm tree flower petals, vibrant fuchsia, delivered by the wind from a nearby tree

Real food: Dragon fruit pudding in a kiwi skin wrap

Digital Counterpart: Tarantula

Real food: Chargrilled chicken with almond ricotta

Digital counterpart: A flaming coal delivered by a fiery phoenix

Real food: Crispy beef wonton with broccolini

Digital counterpart: Beating heart in a tiny cage

Real food: Tuna sushi with fresh mint

Digital counterpart: A piece of icy sushi delivered by the blowhole exhaust of a flying whale

Real food: Pumpkin ravioli

Digital food: Pumpkin attached to a vine that regrows slowly after you eat it

Research on Virtual eating.

Virtual eating impacts taste perceptions.

Emotional response to virtual food by people with eating disorders.

Virtual context effects peoples’ perceptions of healthy vs. unhealthy foods.