High-tech mannequins 'talk' to shoppers via mobile app

Friday, 28 March 2014
High-tech mannequins 'talk' to shoppers via mobile appFirst there was smart mannequins who could 'watch' shoppers shopping. Now, London-based technological start-up Iconeme, has created mannequins who are able to communicate with customers through their mobile phones and 'tell' them about what they are wearing.

Iconeme Ltd., founded last year November by Jonathan Berlin and Adrian Coe, launched VMBeacon earlier this week, a device which allows mannequins to sync and transmit information with customers through an application on their smart phone.

High-tech mannequins 'talk' to shoppers via mobile appThe technology is said to use electronic 'beacons' which are installed into selected mannequins, and when a customer is with an enabled app within 100 meter range, they receive an automatic alert about the product information they can access.

“A recent Google report revealed that 84 percent of smartphone shoppers use their devices to help them browse while in a store,” said Jonathan Berlin, co-founder of Iconeme. “The technology we have developed aims to tap into this trend and offers real value to both retailers and consumers.”

Smart mannequins communicate with shopper through mobile app

Information offered included details about the clothes and accessories the mannequin is wearing, prices and links to purchase the items, or details where they can be found within the store. Shoppers are also able to save certain looks for later or share them with friends. VMBeacon is CE and FCC approves and is said to transmits information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has a battery life of three years, so even if a store is closed shoppers can still access information that the retailer uploads.

Retailers who use VMBeacon will have complete control over what information they make available, and will also have access to the reports between the mannequins and shoppers and can include details such as age, gender, location, what outfit was seen and if a purchase was made or not.

However customers who are wary of sharing personal detail can edit their privacy settings via the app to select which details they wish to make available.The founders assure that information transmitted through the VMBeacon is 100 percent safe as it is not stored in the device itself in the mannequins, but on a cloud-based secure web portal.

Iconeme is said to currently be in discussion with a number of fashion retailers on the launch of the high-tech mannequins. Co-founder Berlin is also managing director of Universal Display, UK maker of mannequins and display products for customers which include the likes of department store group Harvey Nichols, retailers Hobbs London, Jaegar and fashion holding company Arcadia Group.

In an interview with Bloomberg, he said that the mannequins have been well received in the US and UK, but declined to share which customers had placed an order for the smart mannequins, noting that “they're very interested”. Although prices for the VMBeacon mannequins have yet to be revealed, Berlin noted that the smart mannequins would cost between 30 and 35 percent more than a regular Universal Display mannequin.

“The Internet of Things and beacon technology has been gaining momentum over the last few years but we are yet to see its practical and widespread use in retail outlets,” said Berlin. “Installing this technology in mannequins ensures it occupies a prime location and an ideal focus-point for shoppers, whether they are in the store itself or just passing by the window.”

The Iconeme app will available to download for both iOS and Android in the near future. Customers will then either be able to use the Iconeme app on its own, or in the future the app may be integrated into the selected retailer's app.