So many of us are doing our shopping on the internet, a place that is so convenient, you can get most of your grocery shopping done when you’re still sitting up in bed waiting for a reason to get out. Pretty soon, however, there could be a new place to shop.
It sounds like the makings of a commercial, but this new place is — like the internet — close to home, or it will be when more people get VR headsets.
This week, online marketplace eBay and the long-established department store Myer have joined forces to come up with a vision as to what the future of online shopping could be like, presenting a virtual world for your eyes to explore.
There’s no fancy name for this, with the duo simply calling it the “eBay VR Department Store”, but the result is something anyone with a phone and a virtual reality box pair of goggles can try, including anyone with a recent ViewMaster, Samsung Gear VR, or even a $5 paper-based Google Cardboard headset.
In the beginning, you’ll find what is almost a virtual reality ride through a world of garments and objects and things and stuff, bits and pieces you might want to consider buying, as if the act of buying something existed in a Disneyland ride and you had to discover things this way.
But that ends quickly, and from here you’ll be transported into what feels like a futuristic environment where you can sort through a few categories and find products to buy.
You won’t find everything eBay has to offer in these categories, but there is a bit, and it’s not just a basic catalogue either, with a good assortment of products for you to look at in more than one angle.
To eBay’s credit, the VR department store is a little different from many of the virtual reality apps we’ve seen prior, simply because it involves pretty much zero touching.
While VR apps for Google Cardboard and Gear VR can involve a button push — usually a tap on the side of the headset (Gear VR) or a slide of magnetic element (Cardboard) — eBay’s VR app is all about long gazes, and when you want to select something, you must look at the item for a second or two.
Some of the things you gaze on may even provide three dimensional representations, such as what we found with a knife block, while others might just be static images, but all of the information appears in a 3D world you can look around, making it a little more interesting than just a virtual store to look in.
And that is perhaps the most interesting part of the eBay and Myer collaboration, because while you might expect this to result in a digital department store, the outcome is something more like what you might find in a futuristic movie, and makes you feel like you’re shopping in the future.
We’re told the objects all link to actual eBay purchases, too, and while we’re not game to spend a few hundred bucks on a new knife block, in trying to add one to our cart, we were asked to login to an eBay account, suggesting this virtual reality store could, in fact, be real.
As for how you can experience this concept, a VR headset is required, but eBay and Myer are giving 1000 away daily, which the two have named “shopticals” (get it: “shopping” plus “spectacles”?) for this experience.
By the time this story went live, the website had run out for the day, though there are apparently 20,000 being made for to be given out, with some Myer stores also handing them out. Alternatively, the website was more than happy to point us to a location on eBay where we could buy something like it.
Otherwise, if you already have a Google Cardboard headset or something else like it, you can merely download the app, which is available for both Android and iPhone.
And then you can shop and feel like you’re a part of the future in the privacy of your home. We just wouldn’t advise doing it inside the actual brick and mortar store, as you might look a little odd doing so.