Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oh, patents! IBM AR (augmented reality) shopping

Copyright© Françoise Herrmann

AR applications (i.e.; augmented reality applications different from amplified reality applications according to Falk, Reström and Björk) encompass a plethora of applications, in a wide range of domains, from fashion, shopping, tourism and interior decorating, to (ocular) iris, face, photo or finger print recognition, which are usually referred to as biometrics applications when they are security-related.

In AR (augmented reality) users are able to bring together the virtual world and the real world, in real time interaction, which ultimately imposes new properties on physical objects (private and/or public) and thus deepens (augmenting and/or amplifying) the real world experience. So, for example, AR shopping may bring together shelf products and vast amounts of information stored in databases which can be queried in real time. The user simply scans the products from the shelf and begins interacting with the vast amount of stored or virtual information that superimposes the product. Assuming, for example, that the user scanned several boxes of breakfast cereal, the AR application may then allow the user to find out, in real time as a personal aid to the shopping experience, which box has the best price, the lowest sugar content, the fewest calories per portion, the best product reviews, etc. Conversely, the shopper can specify desired characteristics in a shopping list, and the app can scan a shelf of products, or connect to the store inventory, to find a match, route the customer, and superimpose information on the product, thus assisting shoppers in selecting what to buy.  

The IBM patent application US2014201026 titled Personalized customer shopping experience does just what was described above plus much more! Indeed, there are also means disclosed for the consumer products to “announce” via technology, directly to the shopper approaching the product in the aisle, that there is a match with the shopper’s preferences or shopping interests, habits or modeled propensity for replenishment. So, for example, if the shopper enters a store to buy a TV, the TV that matches the shopper’s interests, shopping profile, and/or search criteria, will ”announce” this “temporal understanding of the product preferences of a given customer within the store” to the shopper entering a threshold vicinity or  proximity. In other words, no more searching, reading all the labels or asking for assistance to the salesperson when faced with a wall full of TV screens! The desired TV (match) will “reach out” to the customer… with a buzz and/or message: “Hi Bill, I am Sony Bravia, 32 inch, Hi-Definition, Smart LED TV. My cost is $465, with 1 yr additional warrantee and free home delivery”. And even suggest “cross-selling or related products” based on “known or understood relevance to the consumer’s needs” – a function that translates almost proverbially as “you might also be interested in….”.

This AR shopping experience is achieved by aligning the available inventory of the store (as soon as the shopper walks into the store), with the means that determine what is known and modeled about the shopper’s current intent, habits, preferences, tastes, prior purchases or propensity for replenishment (i.e. the shopper’s shopping list!). The invention also includes means for switching on an audio and/or visual signal designed to greet the customer, announce matches, and suggest cross matches with the customer’s known preferences or current interests and shopping intent. The matching and announcement means further comprise a rank-ordering system designed to organize all the potential matches between the available inventory of products and the consumer’s shopping list (i.e. known or current state of the shopper’s preferences, tastes, intents or propensity for replenishment).

Finally, since this is ultimately a research-based, and multilayered computer program (or software) invention, whose authored instructions and code could technically only be copyrighted, this computer program is patented as media-supported instructions for running a “method”.  Thus, the patent covers a computer program product, able to perform the shopping assistance operations, that includes “a storage medium readable by a processing circuit and storing instructions run by the processing circuit for running a method.”

For further information, the abstract for this invention is included below for US2014201026 titled Personalized customer shopping experience.
A method that improves and enhances the customer's in-store shopping experience. The consumer product of purchase interest or intent to buy expresses (or self-announces via technology) it's match (or fit based on known or understood buying habits, customer taste, tendencies, etc) against the customer preferences during an in-store shopping experience.
To conclude with a completely different take on augmented and /or amplified reality… Adam Harvey, an Interactive Telecommunications NYU alumni, is making waves at the intersection of technology and counter-surveillance using decoys, spoofing and camouflage technologies, in art, to express the angst of amplification...  (e.g.; McNeil , 2012)

 Thus, I suspect that Adam Harvey would offer a completely different approach on such a personalized customer shopping experience and what might alternatively be perceived as hinging on invasion of privacy and encroachment on personal space, arising in the modeling of consumer habits and GPS tracking…. But that is indeed a whole different set of concerns and sensitivities voiced in a world of ubiquitous computing (Weiser,1996)!

Flak, J., Reström, J. and S. Bjork () Amplifying reality.
Herrmann, F. (2013) Oh, patents! Adam Harvey @ NYU. Post at Patents on the soles of your shoes on Oct 20, 2013)
McNeill, J. (2012) Artist profile: Adam Harvey. Rhizome, June 11, 2012.
Weiser, M. (1996)
Weiser, M. (1993) "Some Computer Science Problems in Ubiquitous Computing," Communications of the ACM, July 1993. (reprinted as "Ubiquitous Computing". Nikkei Electronics; December 6, 1993; pp. 137-143.) 

1 comment:

simwave said...

Augmented reality lets you browse a virtual catalog of clothes from your favorite brands, shop directly within your Esquire magazine (below), or head to a virtual pop-up store and avoid the lines.

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