Alibaba introduces AR in its ecosystem

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Alibaba is launching Taobao Buy, a new shopping experience that uses AR technology to bring 3D versions of products into the real world.

E-commerce supergiant, Alibaba Group, recently announced Taobao Buy, an AR infused shopping experience that reimagines how you shop online with an interactive experience that looks and feels futuristic but is also easy to use.

Alibaba’s new AR infused shopping app perfectly blends the real-world with 3D images for a result that looks like something straight out of big budget science fiction movie.

To bring this experience to life, a 3,200-square-feet ‘futuristic shopping district’ will be assembled inside a building along scenic West Lake in Hangzhou, which is an area known for having influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history, as well as being a location for reflecting an idealized fusion between humans and nature; something the designers behind Taobao Buy wanted to be sure to capture.

Through cooperation with Microsoft, Taobao Buy’s AR content will be accessible through the HoloLens headset. Alibaba sees a future were AR wearables are an “everyday device.”

Is it a coincidence that this announcement comes straight off of the heels of Magic Leap announcing their partnership with the online home goods store, Wayfair, to bring an AR shopping experience to their users?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Alibaba’s, Taobao Buy, which launches later this year, will let you browse and place 3D holograms of select products from their massive online store into your environment to see how they might look in a room. You can look at virtual dishware and see how it looks in front of you before making the final decision to purchase.

 

Using basic hand gestures, you’ll be able to move and place items around the shopping floor or on the demo kitchen counter. Don’t like what you see?  A quick swipe and the items are removed from your field of vision, giving you a clean slate to look at other products.

The AR shopping experience will also give you access to information such as item specifications, customer ratings, and comments via a digital display that Alibaba hopes will reinvigorate your shopping experience.

Alibaba is a technology forward e-commerce company who will not hesitate to jump on an the opportunity to reinvent the shopping experience. In 2017, the company teamed up with the coffee giant Starbucks’ Shanghai Reserve Roastery location to build an incredibly unique interactive store packed with location-based AR experiences.

With the excitement of AR and VR’s potential to give consumerism a fun interactive boost, the Taobao Buy marketing department see an opportunity to push e-commerce into a new direction – where shoppers have unlimited alternatives to viewing their favorite products.

No word on whether Taobao Buy will be available on the upcoming HoloLens 2, but assuming this latest headset iteration is a hardware upgrade with no alterations to the current software, we could very well be looking at one of the first AR shopping experiences for the upcoming Microsoft device.

Alibaba will officially introduce the world to Taobao Buy at the upcoming Creativity Festival in Hangzhou, China.

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About Author

IT and video games are Bryan's topics of interest since a very early age. Video games, the Internet, game consoles and computers became his normal toys, as a result, writing about the infancy of the Web, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality, the games industry and hardware in general. Writing, along with his other interests: programming, hardware, photography, and traveling. Technology, in general, makes him tick.

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