Digital technology is making increasingly frequent appearances in offline retail environments. Those installations — think TopShop’s augmented reality fitting room in Moscow, PayPal’s “mobile shopping walls” in Singapore and Sephora’s iPad-enhanced makeup counters in the U.S. — tend to be fun and interactive, drawing in shoppers through novelty of experience.
This week, we spoke with Perch Interactive, a four-person firm developing a new kind of interactive projection display for retail environments. The “Perch display” uses projected light and motion sensors to enhance products positioned on tabletop counters. It can sense when and where a product — or the area around a product — is touched, and when it is picked up.
Perch gives retailers the opportunity to “build a life around a product,” says cofounder Jared Schiffman, a graduate of MIT’s Media Lab. “When you see a product on a shelf, you can imagine how it might be used or how it might be worn, but that doesn’t always happen or happen in the way the product creator intended,” says Schiffman. Perch has the ability to give retailers and creators greater control over that experience, he contends.
Imagine coming across a shoe lit up by one of Perch’s displays, as shown in the video above. You could press buttons around the shoe to learn more about it: to see what other colors it’s available in, for instance, or to see how it could be styled. When you lift it from the counter, details about the brand, model and price appear. Perch records your interactions with the display and submits it to the retailer, which the retailer could use to improve its system.
Schiffman admits Perch is not the first company to develop this kind of technology — indeed, Schiffman has been working on similar projects at Potion, the interaction design firm he cofounded in New York, for years. Those projects were primarily one-off, customized solutions for institutional clients, however. Potion is building a hardware and software platform that will open this kind of technology up to a much broader range of retailers, he says.
The Perch display will be officially unveiled at Decoded Fashion, a fashion and technology conference to be held at New York’s Lincoln Center on April 30.