Does Oculus Rift have a future in retail?

Premium beer maker Dos Equis is the latest brand to immerse itself into virtual reality with Facebook-owned Oculus Rift. The brand has created an ad allowing viewers to experience a masquarade party hosted by Dos Equis character, The Most Interesting Man In The World, on the device, which will be located at bars and events throughout the US. The experience is accompanied by an interactive video online where participants can choose their own adventure with vignettes such as a leopard and fire breathing.


Other brands that have started to experiment with the technology include Lexis, Marriott, Coca-Cola and HBO. In another nod towards gaming, the latter used Oculus at SXSW earlier this year in a Game of Thrones ‘Ascend the Wall’ exhibit, where users could step into the universe and virtually take an elevator up the 700-foot ice wall on the show.

At last week’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, Palmer Luckey the creator of Oculus Rift, spoke about the future uses of this technology within different industries. “The main reason that games are driving the Rift right now, and the reason they’ll continue to do so in the future, isn’t that it’s the most exciting use in the long run, it’s that right now the games industry is the only industry with the tools and the talent to create real-time immersive 3D environments,” he said. “Those talents do exist in other industries but not at the mass scale that you see in the games industry.”

In spite of this, he hinted there could be application for fashion and retail ahead. “There are other people experimenting with it too… there’s some stuff that’s being worked on so that you can fit virtual clothes onto a skin on your body to see how they look.”

Virtual mirrors, connected fitting rooms and indeed gamification, aren’t new concepts for this industry. Both have been experimented with by a large variety of brands and retailers, and continue to be, as per a WGSN report earlier this year that explored the ‘era of smarter retail’. That said, virtual reality in a truly immersive sense is a lot newer.

Topshop used Oculus Rift for its Unique catwalk show during London Fashion Week in February. The initiative allowed shoppers to experience the show through one of five Oculus Rift headsets stationed in the window of its Oxford Street flagship store. British store John Lewis also recently revealed it is researching into possible in-store uses where customers shopping in furniture departments could see how product would look in their home.

Further application particularly for personal shopping experiences, not to mention gamified youth stores, accordingly seem likely. There’s nothing quite like buzz from blue chip brands like Coca-Cola, not to mention a $2 billion dollar price tag from Facebook to build hype around a new technology after all. Expect to see retailers tapping into the gaming industry talent pool ahead.

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