An intriguing future where shoppers can talk virtually to products on a retailer’s shelf is getting closer with the development of a new concept that adds a human-hologram to product packaging. The bold new direct-to-consumer (D2C) prototype, developed by start-up technology company Immertia (Geelong, Australia), uses augmented reality to project the ultra-realistic hologram from within the product packaging itself. A video demonstrating the hologram concept shows a smartphone activating a tiny female hologram by scanning the packaging. Information and advice follows from the virtual concierge.
Dave Chaffey, Immertia’s Managing Director, said the response to the groundbreaking concept had been overwhelming. “The prototype we’re showing is fascinating. Users will see that there’s a person – a hologram – inside the packaging, waiting to provide information and advice about the product. Currently, she can provide information in English or in Spanish. It’s been an absolute showstopper for us so far. You can see people’s responses – just pure amazement.”
Chaffey sees a bright future for the worldwide packaging and consumer goods industries, and is excited about the potential of new technologies coming to the industry. “There’s some brilliant work going on – some great technologies that add value for consumers and keep brands connected. In time, these concepts will change the way we shop. Packaging will become even more important in the purchase-decision process. There’s an important role for the packaging industry to steer the direction of new technologies,” he added.
How it works
Basically, consumers use their smartphone to scan and ‘activate’ the packaging. The augmented reality hologram is then viewed through the smartphone’s camera, where she (the product’s virtual concierge) offers product information and advice. Aside from the initial surprise, the holographic woman provides a simple, intuitive way to receive information. The trust factor is always an important barrier for consumers, and the concept was developed with that in mind, Immertia pointed out.
“The vision is to bring real people into the mix,” Chaffey added. “Trusted faces, a doctor, a pharmacist, or a likeable celebrity could just as easily be in that place. The hologram is supported by a range of multimedia content, and provides information and content virtually. The concept is mind-boggling. It’s more than a cool concept. There’s a bigger outlook here – we’re creating an environment where all of the information about a product including advice, instructions and guidance, all come from the product itself. That way of thinking is intuitive too. When you need to know something about a product, you go straight to the source. We’re still a while away from hitting mainstream, but we’re demonstrating a tangible solution with no barriers for the consumer. The commercial applications are enormous, with user cases in food and beverage, manufacturing, health, education, and many more industries,” Chaffey added. A video of the concept released recently on social media resulted in contacts from three pharmaceutical “giants” and several interested marketing agencies. Immertia is also calling for expressions of interest from possible investors.
The company currently has two Augmented Reality (AR) platforms on the market. One, called Swigr, is an application for the alcoholic beverage industry. The company just developed a Space-Invaders-style game on its app, breathing new life into the retro classic. Through its Swigr app, consumers scan a brand’s label to commence fending off aliens appearing on a brand’s can or bottle via touch controls on the user’s smartphone screen. With the opportunity for users to have their initials up in lights at the top of a virtual scoreboard, and compete at an international level, it’s easy to see how this technology can boost engagement – and follow-up sales. The technology is aimed primarily at millennial males. Swigr also has a direct-to-consumer option with ‘Buy Now’ capabilities, enabling brands to capture in-moment sales from their bottles and cans. With the click of a button, users can purchase the product from the brand’s website or anywhere else it’s sold online.