A highly developed technology exists today that allows consumers to create their own multiple online Avatars with extensive user defined characteristics. Applications of this technology range far beyond shopping. Avatars are working today in many industries ranging Energy to Automotive, Architecture and Consumer Packages Goods.
Digital ergonomic models have been in use for many years in crash testing research. They are more accurate that physical crash test dummies which are notorious for their lack of reality. It is better to work with accurately proportioned and articulated digital mannequins who ride and crash a variety of digital 3D vehicles in thousands of instances before the physical tests are set up.
The same technology inspires factory planners and energy installations. Where access is complex, difficult loads handled, physical human locomotion and action can be precisely measured for enhanced safety, productivity and efficiency. In very hazardous environments like those in the Energy or Maritime industries 3D avatars are deployed to develop precise working methodology prior to actual human entry. This planning with avatars compresses the time that is available to work in such energy or chemical rich environments.
Dassault Systèmes, Europe’s second largest software company is at the heart of Avatar development. Now in its 28th year the company has been at the forefront of 3D mannequin and Avatar technology supplying solutions for the world’s biggest companies across 11 major industries. The company is the product Lifecycle PLM leader providing end-to-end software and support for the world’s most innovative companies.
Jérôme Bergeret, Director Consumer Goods Industry, Dassault Systèmes, is working with retailers to develop Avatar applications. He said, “With the increase in domestic and mobile consumer bandwidth Avatar technology is increasingly practicable. We are can build user defined characteristics into Avatars. This is not new technology in other industries where Avatars look real and artificial intelligence makes them appear intelligent.”
Where is my Avatar
Jérôme explained. ”Consumer preferences can be determined very accurately in retail avatars. Simple things like customer sizing and appearance can be complemented by feature mapping to produce accurate faces. Kinetic technology coupled with articulation increases the realistic effects in movement. In an industrial context 3D digital models are informed by the data that surrounds them. Ergonomic mannequins for example ‘understand’ their functions. Retail mannequins can be given access to lists of previous purchases, buying preferences and other data. They can in effect answer questions and behave as autonomously.
Mobile phones, cameras and cars equipped with GPS present an interesting data source for avatars. Once location is added into the equation,’ Jérôme said, “Opportunities for social interaction and location specific activities are made available to retailers. There is no limit to creating the things that we imagine. The difference between real and virtual is disappearing.
Jérôme spoke of a project to capture user preferences using Avatars. “Return rates for Internet purchases are very high and site visitor retention is very low. Solutions that can improve these figures are welcomed by internet retailers.”
Dassault Systèmes is working with one retailer to allow consumers to see potential products in proposed environments and with another retailer to allow soft fabrics to be realistically represented on Avatar mannequins. These types of innovations improve site retention and lead to fewer returns because customers have been able to more accurately assess their purchase decisions. Customers develop higher loyalty through this type of innovation by feeling greater brand attachment.”
Interestingly, the work that has been done to develop ultra-realistic avatars has not always met with the greatest user acceptance. Jérôme explained, “People’s view in the mirror is not the same as looking at a realistic avatar. The truth sometimes has to altered to gain users acceptance. It is quite possible to have the real data ‘hiding’ behind an enhanced representation of the customer.”
Packaging companies are using 3D modelling and stock products in virtual shops which are populated with real shopper behaviour mapping. This can be represented by a mannequin of just through footfall patterns to represent realistic shopping scenarios.
New stuff – Cool Stuff
Avatars help consumers discover new products. The more a customer interacts in a virtual world the more realistic will be their product expectations. A deeply immersive shopping experience delivers an understanding to consumers which results in better, more rewarding decisions. Retailers may use the higher levels of customer data that are generated in these situations to optimise aspects of their offering and thereby generate higher sales, lower returns and more loyal customers.
Advances in avatar development in non-retail applications are feeding directly into consumer activity. For example, a further level of realism has been developed in the life Sciences arena by Dassault Systèmes working with pharmaceutical companies to realistically model the human body from a medical perspective. Some of this work looks at the interaction of drugs in the body for medical research. The implications of this technology in a retail avatar may help individuals make better leisure activity decisions.
Jérôme concluded. “We are on page one of retail avatar development but much further forward in other industries. Retail has been missing out on these technologies but is rapidly addressing many of its online problems with highly developed avatar solutions. We are lucky enough to be working with some of the world’s biggest retail organisations. We are helping them to implement retail avatar solutions that add value by optimising and enhancing business development through offering better customer experiences.”
Author: Nick Lerner, Published April 15, 2011
To find out more about Dassault Systèmes follow this link https://www.whichplm.com//plm-suppliers/dassault-systemes