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Peering into Tesco's augmented reality

Tesco has kicked off augmented reality trials in Extra stores across the south east, building on a web-based tool that lets shoppers look at 3D images of products not found on shelves
tesco-ar-lego-2.jpg
1 of 3 Karen Friar/ZDNet

Tesco augmented reality Lego display

Tesco is running an augmented reality (AR) trial in six of its stores, giving shoppers a 3D look at products on sale but not found on shelves.

For the pilot, which kicked off on Wednesday, the retail giant has placed computers with webcams in store aisles in Tesco Extra supermarkets in Milton Keynes, Wembley, Borehamwood, Cheshunt, New Malden and Hatfield. Shoppers can hold a Tesco Direct catalogue page or Tesco Clubcard to the webcam to generate an image of a product, then manipulate the page or card to see different aspects of it.

"It is not often not practically possible to display, for example, the more than 180 televisions that sell in a store," a Tesco spokeswoman told ZDNet UK. "Through AR we are able to offer realistic and life-size representations of what that product will look like."

Tesco expects to run the trials to the end of the year, with weekly checks on how it is going. The in-store programme uses the same augmented reality tool provided on Tesco's website, with the technology provided by Kishino.

Screenshot: ZDNet UK

tesco-ar-marker.jpg
2 of 3 Karen Friar/ZDNet

Tesco augmented reality webcam

To use the store's augmented reality tool at home, people need a PC with a webcam, either built-in or USB-connected. They then need to download the Kishino augmented reality browser plug-in, which needs a minimum spec browser of either Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3. Chrome and Safari are not supported.

Next they select an item from a list of 30 AR-ready products. At the moment, there are 10 Samsung televisions, 10 Lego models and 10 trailers for DVDs and games to choose from. The tool then opens a browser page with a marked-out rectangle (shown above) where the Tesco Direct cover or other marker should be positioned.

Screenshot: ZDNet UK

tesco-augmented-reality-sheet.jpg
3 of 3 Karen Friar/ZDNet

Tesco augmented reality marker

As in stores, they can hold up a Tesco Direct catalogue or a Clubcard to the camera, or they can use a Tesco Tech support guide or print out a 'marker' page featuring the Tesco AR robot (shown above). The software loads the 3D image, which can be rotated by turning the marker in front of the camera.

"Customers can interact with the products to see exactly where the features of a product are located," the Tesco spokeswoman said. "For example, a TV may have five HDMI ports, but it's not clear where they are located on the TV. With AR, the customer can turn the TV and physically see where the ports are."

Screenshot: ZDNet UK


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