Categories
Editor's pick mobile technology

Macy’s teams with IBM Watson for AI-powered mobile shopping assistant

IBM Watson Macy's
The new AI-powered Macy’s On Call mobile tool from IBM Watson and Satisfi

Macy’s is set to launch an in-store shopping assistant powered by artificial intelligence thanks to a new tie-up with IBM Watson via developer partner and intelligent engagement platform, Satisfi.

Macy’s On Call, as it’s called, is a cognitive mobile web tool that will help shoppers get information as they navigate 10 of the retail company’s stores around the US during this pilot stage.

Customers are able to input questions in natural language regarding things like where specific products, departments, and brands are located, to what services and facilities can be found in a particular store. In return, they receive customised relevant responses. The initiative is based on the idea that consumers are increasingly likely to turn to their smartphones than they are a store associate for help when out at physical retail.

Head over to Forbes for the full story on what the technology itself includes as well as further detail on what the experience enables the customer to do.

Categories
Editor's pick technology

8 outrageous future tech ideas we wish would happen at fashion week

gucci

Fashion and technology are increasing bedfellows, but at no time of year do we see experimentation between these two worlds integrate more than during fashion week season. In the past, we’ve been welcomed by drones flying overhead at Fendi, virtual reality adopted at Topshop Unique, and Google Glass (ahem) walking down the catwalk at Diane von Furstenberg. More often than not, such moves are part of an elaborate scheme to generate press headlines and consumer interest as the shows become re-engineered to appeal to the public rather than the trade audience they once were.

Meanwhile, in the technology realm, corporations are turning to the fashion world to a greater degree than ever before too. Apple teamed up with Hermès to launch a special luxury edition of the Apple Watch for instance, and just this month, Virgin Galactic announced a partnership with Y-3 (the adidas and Yohji Yamamoto line) to create the outfits for its future astronauts, pilots and passengers.

So all of that got us thinking: If budget were no issue and innovation truly knew no bounds in the traditional fashion houses of New York, London, Milan and Paris, what dream technology tie-ups would we really love to see hit the catwalks? Head on over to Forbes to read about everything from artificial intelligence to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop playing a part. There’s a Burberry invisibility cloak, Gucci downloadable dreams and an Alexander McQueen tele-presence show.

Call them all a gimmick, but they beat another Instagram takeover or Snapchat reveal… no?

Categories
business Comment data Editor's pick mobile Startups technology

Where image recognition technology is headed for retailers: Cortexica interview

Cortexica_findsimilar

Visual search is one of those technologies we know is set to impact the future of shopping significantly, we’re just not quite there yet. The ability for consumers to snap a shot of something they like on the street, then find the same, if not similar item somewhere for sale immediately, is an appealing concept – who hasn’t fancied the look of someone’s coat on the subway, or shoes in a bar.

At this point in time, there are numerous apps out there promising to offer this sort of service, but the results are mixed – surfacing ideal product on occasion, and total misses on others. One of the companies backing it to get it right, is Cortexica.

Its findSimilar™ software leverages sophisticated algorithms to mimic the way the human visual cortex within the brain interprets images that we see everyday. It white-labels this technology for use by retailers including Macy’s, Zalando, Rent the Runway and more. The Macy’s launch, just announced last week, sees the image recognition and visual search offer embedded in its iOS app in time for the holiday season. Users are able to upload their pictures, find equivalent product on Macys.com and make purchases immediately.

I spoke with Steve Semenzato, co-founder and VP of business development at Cortexica about where visual search is headed, the role deep learning and data will play in its development, and the fact we’re five years out from this having true mainstream application.

Head over to Forbes.com for the full interview.