Italy’s inVRsion Bringing Virtual Reality Into Retail Store Planning

January 3, 2017 by Dave Haynes

I’m starting to become a bit of a believer in virtual reality as being relevant beyond gaming and some highly specialized applications, and looking forward to checking out an Italian start-up called inVRsion at NRF in New York mid-month.

The company seems pretty focused on how VR could be used for business purposes, as opposed to setting up VR stations in public spaces and retail and asking people to slip on the headsets. The effort needed to do all that and keep it running and avoid injuries and lawyers and on and on just seems too much.

inVRsion develops real-time, room-scale virtual reality (VR) applications for retailers, consumer packaged goods and market research companies, with the idea that marketers can understand things like product positioning, planograms, sightlines and the customer journey – all before a store opens or product gets put on trucks heading for stores and shelves.

inVRsion will be at NRF demo’ing its flagship product, ShelfZone, a VR simulator that the company says in a press release “reproduces shops, supermarkets, malls and retail spaces with stunning realism for an immersive VR experience for both consumers and businesses. ShelfZone collects data to analyze user behavior to help companies better understand the path customers take while shopping.”

“For the first time, our solutions combine VR, eye-tracking and artificial intelligence to enable companies to study stores and consumer behavior in a better, faster and more cost-efficient way,” says Matteo Esposito, CEO of inVRsion. 

The company recently picked up three marketing awards from POPAI and probably more exciting to them, was the only VR-company to be selected worldwide to participate in Walmart’s Innovation Lab. The company is busy developing e-commerce solutions in VR using Watson, the IBM artificial intelligence system.

inVRsion’s VR incorporates high-end solutions, capable of producing outputs that also integrate third party systems such as Spaceman by Nielsen, non-VR projection systems or ERP/CRM legacy systems while supplying three different assets. These assets include design, production and installation of virtual rooms; supply of software solutions for real-time room-scale VR simulators; and development of optimized 3D contents for immersive and interactive virtual reality.

So what does this have to do with signage? Well, not a whole pile – except that these sorts of tools can help marketers and store designers, as well as their integration partners, plan out where messaging go and how it will be viewed, long before the boxes and the install techs show up. If you can design a store and see, in VR, that a video wall is heading for the wrong place, or bigger screens are needed to create any real visual impact, that can be done with minimal guesswork.

Australia’s Coates Group showed me a demo this past fall that used a VR gaming engine to put QSR operators inside virtual stores to sort out kiosk and menuboard placement.

Here’s a video I also think is intriguing, though grocery shopping wouldn’t be all that healthy if people only bought things out of boxes, bags and cans. You can’t see whether the arugula is any good using VR.


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