Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Shopping For That MobileBeat

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Remember “Minority Report?” That scene where Tom Cruise was walking by the billboard, and the billboard “recognized” him through some kind of biometrics (I think it was an eye scan?) and then started to target ads to him?

Well, IBM is doing something really cool and not even like that, but I had to make sure I got your attention so you’d keep reading.

In our case, IBM Research has created a new augmented reality application that gives in-store shoppers instant product details and promotions, all in the palm of their hand.

Here’s how it works: Upon entering a store, consumers download the app on their smart phone or tablet, register, and create a profile of features that matter to them — from product ingredients that could trigger an allergy, to whether packaging is biodegradable.

When they then point their device’s video camera at merchandise, the app will instantly recognize products and, via augmented reality technology, overlay digital details over the images — such as ingredients, price, reviews and discounts that apply that day.

Talk about an educated, empowered consumer!

And, if consumers opt in (their choice!), information from their social networks can be integrated into the information stream. For instance, if a friend had reviewed or made a comment about a product they’re looking at, they’ll see it.

Using IBM’s prototype app, shoppers looking for breakfast cereal could specify they want a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers – and on sale.

As a shopper pans the mobile device’s camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented shopping app reveals which cereals meet the criteria and provides a same-day coupon to entice consumers to make a purchase.

The app, being developed by IBM’s Research lab in Haifa, Israel, addresses the fundamental gap between the wealth of readily available product details on the Web that in-store shoppers don’t have access to — despite the fact that in-store shopping accounts for more than 92% of the retail volume, according to Forrester Research.

Retailers will be able to use the app to build in-store traffic by connecting with individual consumers, turning marketing into a welcomed service that is not intrusive.

In turn, the app can make it easier for retailers to understand consumer likes and dislikes and offer related products in other aisles, such as bananas or milk, to accompany a cereal purchase. It could also make loyalty points and digital coupons become more convenient for shoppers, freeing them from the hassle of searching for discounts.

Too bad the app won’t be ready in time for net week’s MobileBeat 2012, which is being held at the Palace Hotel in downtown San Fran next week (July 10-11).

AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher, Mark Pincus (CEO, Zynga), Michael Bayle (SVP and GM, ESPN Mobile) and a host of other mobile luminaries will be coming together to talk mobile applications, design/UI, and ecosystem, among other mobile-relevant topics.

Conference sub-themes include Tablets, IT: Consumerization, Infrastructure/Cloud: Scale Is Beauty, Monetization, Retail: Wait, Why Are They Coming? and Designing Distribution.

You can register for the event here.

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