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Augmented reality brings new life to retail

breidbach_krakenshirt-videoAugmented reality can bring a whole new experience to the purchase of clothing, but storytelling skills can add a crucial link when using this technology to connect place and culture for customers in retail settings.

That has been the experience of Cryptid Clothing, a design company from San Francisco, based on research from University of Melbourne information systems specialist Dr Christoph Breidbach.

Cryptid Clothing creates unique t-shirt designs based on mythical creatures such as Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster. The hand-printed designs also act as trigger images for augmented-reality software. When scanned with a smartphone or tablet, they activate an animation related to the design that is printed on the t-shirt. For example, one is a video based on the 1955 horror science-fiction film It Came from Beneath the Sea, which is set in San Francisco.

Dr Breidbach from the university’s Department of Computing and Information Systems has worked with the US-based company to identify how to use augmented reality to improve in-store service experiences for Cryptid Clothing’s customers.

“My research was designed to help streamline the operation and management of the augmented-reality technology,” Dr Breidbach says. However, he found that technology itself was not enough to engage customers.

“It is not about having, or not having, augmented-reality applications in your business. What matters is how you use and implement it.” He recommended that sales staff adopt a “storytelling” approach around the t-shirt design – supported by the use of an iPad, which played the video or animation.

This resulted in a real “wow” response from customers. The strategy also translated into significantly increased sales for the company, Dr Breidbach says.

More information: Dr Christoph Breidbach, +61 8344 2987, christoph.breidbach@unimelb.edu.au

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