Mixed reality company bags £100,000 investment from John Lewis

Virtual and mixed reality are solving problems that people didn't even know there was an answer to. According to a YouGov survey, 70% of people can't imagine a product in their own homes and this is a challenge for retailers - a problem indeed. 

But virtual reality is soon becoming the 'Apple' of the tech world - there's a solution for that. 

Enter DigitalBridge. It's a virtual visualisation tool that allows consumers to use mixed reality to view products in their own homes. Kind of like Pokémon Go for houses, but with couches instead of Zubats in your living room. 

It's been endorsed as a product that's going places too, after major retailer John Lewis just invested £100,000 in the company, which took part in one of its accelerators. 

Computer vision and the types of technology being pioneered by companies like DigitalBridge have real commercial potential for retailers

John Lewis tried DigitalBridge out amongst its consumers and were apparently impressed with the "commercial potential" of the tool. 80% of customers who tried it reportedly said the tool would make them more likely to buy something on the day.

“This is a major boost and a real vote of confidence for DigitalBridge from one of the biggest retailers in the world,” said David Levine, teh CEO of DigitalBridge.

“This investment will allow us to accelerate our ongoing recruitment process and invest more in research and development in computer vision and deep learning for the retail sector.”

But how does it work?

More technically, the tool works by converting 2D images of people's living rooms, bedrooms or outhouses into 3D images. They can then flick through the retailer's catalogue to pick out a couch/bed/desk of their choice and place it around their room. You're even able to get rid of existing furniture and pop the new product in its place. 

It doesn't just work for furniture though, and you can paint or paper your wall using samples. 

Retailers can integrate it into their own website meaning people can simply preview a purchase before making a decision. We imagine if it were available for them, that would change a lot of trips to IKEA. 

The Irish-born Levine started DigitalBridge in 2013, growing it to a team of 12 researchers and developers at Manchester Science Park. Although, the team haven't been there for the past 12 weeks; they've been at John Lewis HQ in London where they've been getting business advice from senior execs there.

“Computer vision and the types of technology being pioneered by companies like DigitalBridge have real commercial potential for retailers," he said. And how right he is - virtual, mixed and augmented realities are set to shape many sectors in the years to come. 


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