Virtual reality has long lost it 1990-ies hotness and was mainly applied in gaming, but the launch of Google Glass in 2013 has brought VR and AR back in the game.Today more and more companies are looking at different ways to integrate these technologies into their businesses. New exciting functionality of the latest generation of virtual reality and augmented reality devices raised the hype around the technologies. This functionality is possible due to advanced auxiliary technologies that have become available in the past decades including the Internet, mobile, high-quality graphic, high-performance hardware, 3D etc.
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However, the technology is yet to conquer the market, and this process is likely to last for a decade. At least that was the estimate Mark Zuckerberg gave at the China Development Forum on March 19. “In the beginning it will be small units, and there will be five to 10 years before becoming really a big thing,” Zuckerberg said. “But if you want to start with shipping something, and let a lot of people enjoy it, I think it is going to be in 2016.” Facebook’s Oculus Rift was launched later that month, so Zuckerberg is no stranger in VR market.
What Jack Ma implied in his speech is that VR and AR technologies provide immersive experience, the touch and feel factor that has been lacking in eCommerce, creating an obstacle for customers’ decision-taking process and seamless user experience
“When I think of the VR, I think how I can help those women and girls shopping [for] their things on our site easier. Get them [to] buy these things easier, quicker and nicer. And how we can use this VR tech to help the sellers to sell their things in a very friendly way,” said Jack Ma of Alibaba,Zuckerberg’sco-speaker at the Forum.
All indication are that we are witnessing a significant shift in eCommerce towards better customer experience and further involvement of customers in online shopping. And it is a very exciting development.
Alibaba’s new GnomeMagic Lab, an R&D lab explores VR eCommerce applications: it has created 3D visuals for hundreds of products and is currently working on standards for merchants to create VR-enabled shopping options.
And these are not the only IT giants invested in VR and AR technologies. On May 19 eBay’s Virtual Reality Department Store app launched virtual store with a complete 3D experience for Australia’s largest department store Myer’s enabling users to visit it using a simple cardboard headset.
The sectors that are expected to benefit the most include travel, entertainment, health, education, work.Industry experts agree that these technologies will change our shopping experience, just as mobile devices have revolutionized eCommerce.