By Stefan Hauswiesner, CEO and co-founder of Reactive Reality
“While we may not be living in a parallel universe, as the Matrix suggested, the metaverse really does have the potential to completely redefine the way we interact, play, work, socialise, and above all, the way we shop.
In 1992, Author Neal Stephenson envisioned lifelike avatars meeting in realistic virtual reality environments called the “metaverse”. Today, the technology is ready with aspects of the metaverse existing and brands, developers, and businesses are all vying to enter the digital space. The metaverse has the potential to expand at an exponential rate, consuming and entering all aspects of our lives; but they are unable to do so without the right technology.
In the past five years, we have seen a big shift in the ways that shoppers interact with fashion. Consumers have become more comfortable with online shopping as well as the usage of technological innovations, such as AI and VR, being integrated into everyday purchases and digital shopfronts. Shoppers have become more demanding, actively seeking personalization both online and offline. In the metaverse, the need for personalization will reach a new high. As billions of people immerse themselves into the virtual world to play, work, and socialise, they want to express their personalities through clothing and the way they look in the metaverse. Current VR systems allow users to choose from a handful of avatars and clothes – this won’t be nearly enough for the millions, or even billions, of people who want to differentiate themselves from the masses. Just like in the real world, people will turn to (now digital) fashion to achieve this.
Whether it is a high-end look complete with a Hermès Birkin and Gucci boots or perhaps something a bit more hipster with a new Balenciaga hat, it will all be available in the metaverse. Just like personalised avatars, the personal wardrobe will be an integral part of the metaverse. To power such an experience, extremely scalable content methods are required. Brands and retailers will be looking for ways to bring their millions of products into the metaverse – several times a year as new fashion collections arrive.
Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence technologies powering our product, PICTOFiT, are the core to creating photorealistic digital assets needed in the metaverse. PICTOFiT avatars are photorealistic depictions of the user, created easily by them via mobile and smart devices. The biggest challenge of shopping in the metaverse so far has been the digitalization of a retailer’s complete inventory. Creating realistic digital models has traditionally proved time-consuming and completely beyond the budget of most smaller businesses. Reactive Reality’s PICTOFiT technology transforms existing product photos into smart, digital assets in a matter of minutes.
It is through our technology that individuals and businesses will be able to completely digitalise their wardrobe or stock inventory at the click of a button, meaning that when entering the metaverse, an individual’s entire wardrobe will be available in the digital world, and entire stores will also be accessible, just like in the real world, allowing people in the metaverse to access digital shop fronts and buy new clothing. The process is quick and easy to integrate, enabling retailers to capture complete collections, millions of garments, accessories, shoes, and bags, making them readily available for people in the metaverse to try on in their omnichannel implementation. By that, avatars can be dressed interactively, including unlimited outfit combinations. What’s more, the metaverse breaks the rule of the tradition of going into a cramped changing room and closing the curtain to try clothing on, people can try clothes on in virtually any digital setting they choose. Just like in the real world, tastes in fashion and clothing will change and personalization will be key to creating an entirely parallel digital personality in the metaverse.
In my opinion, within the next decade, the metaverse will be an integral part of the complete product lifecycle, from design to manufacturing, promotion, and sales, while enabling better buying decisions. Shoppers will buy the correct size and look on the first try. Some shoppers will even buy digital-only products for their avatars. Physical shops will adapt as a result, instead consisting of a collection of large-format screens where any shopper can experience their complete inventory via virtual try-on technology, such as ours.”