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The North Face banks on the Occulus Rift headset to offer a new in-store experience.

24
jun
2015
Nicolas DIACONO
Technological Trends Senior Analyst
2 minutes
The North Face has just equipped three of its American stores with virtual reality headsets to offer its customers a novel experience with 360° video and encourage them to practise outdoors activities.

Le Fait

In May 2015 the North Face formed a partnership with Jaunt (specialists in virtual reality on Occulus Rift and Google Cardboard) to create content and deploy Occulus Rift headsets in its stores.

In The North Face’s New York store on Broadway, an area is set aside for experimenting with the virtual reality headset. You only have to ask a sales assistant to test it. The sales assistant sets you up in this area and brings you the headset in a briefcase worthy of a senior diplomat. This experience is a real ceremonial! When you put on the headset, you can experience a base jump in 360° video (filmed in Yosemite Park with drones), a breathtakingly realistic experience.

For Eric Oliver, Director of Digital Marketing at The North Face, the idea is simple: “Imagine a teenager putting on the headset and living a breathtaking experience. There is every chance that this will encourage people to really experience the sensations of climbing, snowboarding or base jumping”.

Interpretation

There are high expectations concerning virtual reality headsets, which initially will impact on the video games industry, but what about the retail sector? Admittedly some car manufacturers or tour operators have experimented with them, but only for testing purposes and for a limited audience, as is still the case for The North Face.

So it will be interesting to see how this experiment evolves over time and whether it is rolled out to all the retailer’s outlets, as in-store communication about this technology is still fairly discreet. In spite of everything, with the advent of 360° video and extreme sports, the content at The North Face is much more pertinent as regards the rendering of sensations that what has been done for the Audi TT.
Beyond these 360° videos, which will flood sport fans with extreme sensations, the virtual reality headset can revolutionize web content and therefore e-commerce. This type of technology addresses the driver of consumer experience, which is targeted at young people in search of discoveries.
But first and foremost the virtual rendering in these headsets must be improved, so that tomorrow virtual reality can create a new web consumer model and not end up like Second Life a few years ago.

Nicolas DIACONO
Technological Trends Senior Analyst
As an expert in emerging technologies, Nicolas travels to innovation shows around the world to spot and analyse the new trends.
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