Foresight 12: Ray-Ban partners with Facebook on Ray-Ban Stories + personalization as retail’s new sustainability strategy
A bi-weekly newsletter diving into the concepts, people and brands shaping the future of retail and entertainment.
Welcome back to Foresight!
After a small glitch last Friday, we’re back. This week we’re discussing Facebook’s partnership with Ray-Ban to create a pair of smart glasses, Ray-Ban Stories. Less AR than expected, but the product has people talking.
Another topic of discussion is the concept of personalization and how accurate solutions are coming to the forefront as retailers and brands look to become environmentally responsible. We know we must leverage expertise across industries to solve the world’s environmental challenges and the personalization solutions outlined in the TechCrunch piece below are a solid example of this approach.
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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & FORWARD THINKING PERSPECTIVES
Ray-Ban and Facebook team up on smart glasses
Ray-Ban and Facebook have partnered to create Ray-Ban Stories, Facebook’s first pair of smart glasses and the beginning of its foray into a multi-year partnership with EssilorLuxottica. The glasses are made using three existing Ray-Ban styles with the ability to capture and share images and 30-second videos, make phone calls and play music. Without waveguide technology and a micro projector for display optics to power AR overlay, we can’t consider these AR glasses. Without these key components for a true AR experience, the frames are only slightly heavier and larger than Ray-Ban’s original styles. The glasses were developed by Facebook Reality Labs whose goal is to “build tools that will help people feel connected anytime and anywhere.” Focusing on creating and sharing content as an entry point gives users a reason to continuously use them. This welcomes an immediate opportunity for creators by offering a new, hands-free vantage point and documenting life without having to look through a phone screen.
As smart glasses continue to be built up as the next breakthrough wearable, getting people to wear them continues to be a challenge. “With Ray-Ban, Facebook is hoping it can finally strike an elusive market as the metaverse becomes more mainstream and people blur the lines between physical and virtual worlds.” “Ultimately, the most common form factor for consuming three-dimensional and spatial content will be some sort of a single wearable that combines augmented reality and virtual reality,” says Amy LaMeyer, managing partner of the WXR Fund, a venture fund backing start-ups using AR, VR and AI. Privacy concerns, of course, are another challenge. Metaverse technology continues to raise questions around ethics and legal concerns—what happens when the creator is capturing content without expressed consent from subjects? How much of your data does Facebook keep when you capture and share content? This brings us back to the shared set of rules that companies operating in the metaverse will eventually have to commit to. Although this wasn’t the true AR glasses partnership I was hoping for, it’s clear Facebook is starting the dialogue with consumers around wearing AR glasses as I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more from the company here.
Retail’s new sustainability strategy: Personalization
We know reducing waste is key to reaching environmental milestones, and some retailers are narrowing in on personalization as a unique approach. “Accurate personalization can guide consumers to the right products and reduce waste while increasing conversion and loyalty.” With personalization expected to be the top tech investment for retailers and big brands this year, it’s a win-win for businesses and consumers. Concepts and startups that provide personalization solutions for retailers and brands fall into three categories outlined below. If retailers and brands are looking for realistic solutions for becoming more environmentally responsible, this is a great starting point.
AR virtual try-on with shade matching
It’s not overly complicated to virtually place lipstick and eyeshadow shades on a face, but using AR and AI to suggest skin-tone-matching cosmetics has continued to be a challenge for AR virtual try-on businesses. With several variables such as light, skin tones, undertones, device, screen, formula and coverage preferences at play, there are major pain points for consumers when shade matching. MIME, a startup in the space, has focused the company’s R&D efforts exclusively on colour accuracy and has helped retailers increase online and in-store purchase conversion by up to five times. “More than 22% of beauty returns are due to poor customer colour purchases, but MIME can get returns as low as 0.1%.”
Advanced virtual fitting rooms with VR/AR
In 2020, over 60% of consumers bracketed their purchases (they bought multiple sizes to try and returned those that didn’t fit) which led to increased return rates of 15%-40% on average for apparel. Although many brands offer virtual try-on and size recommendations, most fail to take the 3D properties of garments and the consumer’s body shape into account which has created an industry wide problem. Perfitly is a VR/AR and AI-powered fitting room solution with the ability to be integrated into the e-commerce platforms of major retails, allowing consumers to create virtual avatars with 97% accuracy. Consumers can zoom in and out and size up and down, enabling them to visualize the difference in sizes. The global virtual fitting room market is expected to more than double by 2025—signs of which we’re already seeing as major retails such as Amazon and Walmart acquire startups in the space.
Based on the beauty’s recycling track record, the industry desperately needs to shift to satisfy the digital, conscience and engaged consumer. Packaging that integrates advanced technologies turning it into more than a container for product will create a huge impact over time. Enabling immersive digital experience, connectivity to the supply chain, and in some cases, the ability for packaging systems to make changes to the product within, are a few ways smart packaging has a lot to offer retailers and brands. According to smart packaging startup Szentia, “net environmental savings can come up to a 71% reduction in brands’ carbon footprint and 50% lower water footprint.” This is currently the only platform that has the ability to track the packaging journey from the factory, distribution, use and reuse to recycling.