Apple Patent envisions a completely new Virtual Store Experience with Avatar Salespeople that can make Presentations about Products & more
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to advancing the experience of buying devices and software on their next-gen online Apple Store with avatar salespeople who can make presentations and more.
Apple's patent describes techniques for enabling a retail experience in a CGR environment. Online shopping can lack the instantaneous feedback, answers to questions, suggestions, demonstrations of products, and human connection of an in-person shopping experience.
Current online consumer applications require a user to browse through menus or perform a search function to locate a product of interest. Additionally, the user is unable to fully interact with the online representation of the product and, therefore, cannot truly experience a full demonstration of the product while in a remote environment.
The techniques described in Apple's patent filing cover the ability to provide real-time communications with a remote salesperson (via a virtual communication session) who can guide a user through a shopping experience in a CGR environment. This allows a user to remain in a remote environment while having an interactive shopping experience with the salesperson, who can provide relevant products, make suggestions based on the interaction, and facilitate full demonstrations of various products and services in the CGR environment.
The salesperson can cause a product, or a collection of products, to be displayed in the CGR environment, and the user can interact with the products to perform a demonstration of the product with or without input from the salesperson.
The salesperson can also manipulate the products to point out features and demonstrate capabilities of the product without input from the user. The techniques disclosed herein provide the user with a retail experience that is in a remote environment such as the user's house, but with the benefits and capabilities of an in-person shopping experience.
In patent FIG. 2B below, we see display #202 displaying a prompt (#210) in the CGR environment (#204). The prompt is a virtual object that provides the user with the option to initiate a retail experience in CGR environment. For example, the user can gesture by waving their hand one direction or another to accept or decline the option to contact the retailer.
Patently Apple covered the topic of in-air gesturing yesterday in a report titled "Google registers an interactive device with the FCC suspected of being the next-gen Nest Hub with added Soli Radar Gesture Sensing." The report also covered Apple's patents on future in-air gesturing that's relevant to today's patent application.
In Apple's patent FIG. 2D below, the salesman could provide virtual store users with software demonstration instead of forcing users to read lengthy webpage verbiage.
In patent FIG. 2F below, the device displays an avatar salesman #215 gesturing to products #220 displayed as virtual objects appearing on a virtual TV. The TV could also be a product table.
The user will also be able to interact with products (#220) to experience a demonstration of the products in CGR environment #204. For example, in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2G, the user retrieved smartphone #220-1 from products #220 displayed on the television found in FIG. 2F above. The device will show the user's hand (#222) holding the retrieved smartphone. The Smartphone is a virtual smartphone that is a fully functioning, virtual representation of a physical smartphone. Further, the smartphone/iPhone #220-1 is shown in the CGR environment having virtual a display displaying virtual application icons #226.
In the CGR environment, device #200 displays smartphone #220-1 behaving as if the virtual object were the real, physical object upon which the virtual object is modeled. Thus, when device 200 detects an input on smartphone 220-1, device 200 displays smartphone 220-1 responding in a same manner as the physical smartphone would respond to the same input in a physical environment. In this way, device 200 enables the user to experience a full and accurate demonstration of a smartphone through interaction with smartphone 220-1 in CGR environment 204.
In Apple's patent FIG. 2H below, the CGR environment #204 is now a VR environment that includes a virtual environment having an avatar salesperson 215, virtual table #228, and virtual products #230. In the VR environment of CGR environment #204, the device #200 no longer displays physical objects such as a MacBook, TV and table.
In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2H, the VR environment is a virtual retail store displaying virtual products. However, Apple adds that "other virtual environments can be displayed in the VR environment, including representations of real locations (e.g., the Great Wall of China), or fictitious virtual locations (e.g., a computer-generated concert)."
Apple's patent application number 20210004137 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in June 2020. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Note: The U.S. Patent Office is still not active regarding patent applications today. Patently Apple happens to have other sources who from time to time publishes Apple patents. One source presented us with a PDF of today's patent application to work with for this report.