I’ve been trading emails for the last few days with Massimo Barbieri, the sales and marketing director for an Italian software firm, Hypersoft, that does some really interesting custom work for interactive retail stations.
He got me interested by sending me a link to a drapes and curtains simulator that would allow a sales person, right on the floor of a home furnishings or DIY store, to work with customers to not only pick out the curtain rods and fabrics, but picture them in different environments and even manipulate the drapes to pull them open.
The video (which I don’t think I can embed) is here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8275583/Curtain%20Virtual%20Expert_ver1.mp4
Barbieri sent me a separate email with a new demo for fashion retail that allows users to mix and match jeans and shirts on a screen, by dragging them on to a desktop and sizing them. It’s a more simple application anyone could use. I have no idea if this is a big software deal or a no-brainer, but the sway and bounce of the fabrics as they get pulled around a screen is definitely eye-catching.
That demo is here: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8275583/Diesel%20Demo.mp4
Barbieri says his firm is privately held and has been around for more than 20 years. Based in Ferrara (northern Italy), the company has about 30 people and focuses on custom work for retail and manufacturing.
Barbieri was in touch because the firm is looking to crack the North American market through partnerships, with a focus on what it calls its Virtual Expert apps. He sees broad application for retail digital signage projects.
Virtual Expert is an innovative augmented reality solution for Retail Interactive Merchandising which can integrate with Digital Signage systems, specifically made to obtain real-time 3D photorealistic simulations of products like: curtains, beds, bedspreads, clothes, etc,” says Barbieri.
The shirts and jeans thing looks the most retail-ready, but I actually like the drapes app more. Home decor has endless fabric and color options all hanging in racks or stuck in thick binders – none of them offering much context to a customer. If that person could come in with a photo of the room and window in mind, and load it in as the background, THAT would be pretty engaging. The apps can also respond to gestures (ie a Kinect hack).
I have no business ties to the company, but am certainly happy to provide Massimo’s contact info if there are immersive companies or integrators who see a fit. His email: MassimoBarbieri AT hypersoft.it
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.