Virtual reality shopping

Talk about scientific and technological developments in the future
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Virtual reality shopping

Post by funkervogt »

Check out this demo of the Varjo XR-3 virtual reality goggles being used to explore a virtual grocery store:

It's lifelike!

I've long dismissed the potential of VR shopping (which is not the same thing as point-and-click "e-commerce" we have now) because brick-and-mortar malls are appealing for reasons that can't be reproduced virtually, but this demo has changed my mind at the margins. In 20 years, I envision people using VR to explore "virtual malls" and "virtual stores" from the comfort of their own homes. Without the need to pay for rent, utilities, or most labor costs, these virtual stores could be gigantic and stocked with impossibly diverse inventories of goods.

And instead of the virtual shopping experience being isolating, it could be social, with the stores populated with other shoppers you could interact with. You could probably use filter settings to control which shoppers were visible to you, and your own visibility. For example, if you were an elderly person looking for people of like mind to meet at the grocery store, you could adjust your settings so that only people in your age group could see you and be seen by you. A single virtual grocery store might have 5,000 people "in" it at once, but with each user seeing a different combination of other users, in kind of the same way that parallel universes might coexist with ours.

If you decided to buy something from a virtual store, it would be delivered to your front porch within a day or two.

VR shopping could thus capture the tactile and social interaction qualities that make in-person mall shopping desirable to humans. I don't think the former will ever fully replace the latter, but it could muscle in at the margins.
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