German tech store Saturn is experimenting with an AR alien called Paula to push their products ... That's a sentence I never thought I'd write.
The retailer is testing their augmented reality salesperson with customers in 20 select stores via a Microsoft HoloLens. 'Paula' will explain specific in-store products to the wearer, which include products like the Samsung Galaxy S8, Surface Pro 4, and Dyson Big Ball hoover.
The sassy white-and-black creation will apparently "march ahead" of customers on her bizarre cloak-legs, before "escorting" them to and explaining various products. Participating visitors will even be given a souvenir photo of their experience with Big P.
"Something which only recently still seemed like science fiction has now been made possible – by augmented reality," read a statement from MediaMarktSaturn. "Customers will be able to explore a new shopping experience in which virtual items are displayed in real environments, hence 'augmenting' the perception of reality."
Speaking about the Saturn Holotour, Martin Wild, Chief Digital Officer of MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group, said:
With the HoloTour we are once again able to experience an innovative technology at Saturn. We show our customers what fascinating opportunities the expanded reality can provide and give an insight into the shopping of the future, which will be even more personalized, while at the same time learning how our customers interact with the new technology.
Markus Rohm, a German journalist who tried out Paula — yes, that sounds wrong on many levels — said it felt "strange" to run around after a flying octopus in the store.
Markus said chasing an invisible cartoon around a shop wearing bulky glasses incurred a few "disturbed" looks from other browsers. He also pointed out that the HoloLens technology needed some work in the retail sector. For instance, users can lose sight of Paula because the field of vision is "too small."
Although it's still early days, 'Paula' is nonetheless a clever marketing ploy and interesting use of the HoloLens technology.