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UK firm creates virtual supermarket

21 September 2012 - 12:40 by Paul Tissington

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Most people who buy products online will do so from within a web browser or a smartphone app, using a simple 2D interface with search bars and menus, in order to choose the items they need before heading to the digital checkout.

This process is certainly convenient, but it does not really represent the same experience as actually getting out and going to your local supermarket to fill a basket with boxes and packages, before you then head to a real till, manned by a member of staff.

Now a British company called Keytree is trying to emulate this traditional retail experience with a virtual supermarket which is up and running in a prototype form, according to the Daily Mail.

Tesco is actually partnering with the company to deploy this system, which takes advantage of a number of recent technological developments, to overcome the issues previously associated with full 3D virtual shopping.

Broadband connectivity and faster processors are making it easier for retailers to approach the idea of combining safe shopping online with a virtual reality environment, according to a Tesco spokesperson.

Keytree's engineers took advantage of retail information provided by the supermarket giant and used this to generate a digital representation of a store, which can be interacted with using the motion-sensing capabilities of the Xbox Kinect system.

This hybrid interface means that no physical controller is required, as the customer can simulate the process of walking around in full 3D space, then use their hands to gesture at the items which they want to buy.

Of course this may be a slower process than searching for items via standard online grocery shopping, but it does mean that the nature of e-commerce will become more organic and engaging in the future.