Mall of America’s hologram concierge offers gift suggestions
For the holiday season, the Mall of America introduced what it claims is the “first-ever Shopping Hologram Concierge.” Ellie the Elf, a 3D-avatar located at the mall’s Holiday Cottage, offers gift advice and supports other shopping needs.
For instance, if shoppers ask Ellie to list gifting categories for a “teen” or “husband,” the character offers categories and asks the shoppers to choose which they would like help with. Further prompts from Ellie help identify the ideal gift suggestions from the mall’s holiday shopping guide. Ellie is also already proving popular with selfie takers.
The artificial-intelligence software, from VNTANA, connects a 3D model with a chatbot (i.e., Microsoft Azure, Amazon Alexa, IBM Watson, Satisfi Labs) to drive the experience. Ellie can also schedule appointments, provide directions and help with purchases.
“At our core, Mall of America is an experiential retail destination,” said Sarah Townes, VP of marketing at Mall of America, in a statement. She described the hologram technology as “a great way to capitalize on our multi-channel chatbot we launched last year and provides yet another interaction for guests to experience that not only offers a fun interaction but also assistance to those searching for gift ideas.”
The potential for use of hologram tech in retail as well as hotel, gaming and other entertainment settings has received more attention lately with advances in AI and voice-recognition recognition.
In early December, Canadian startup TwentyBN introduced “Millie,” described as “the world’s first context-aware digital companion.” In a review, Bloomberg said the avatar knows where the customer is located in the store with engagement similar to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Millie promises to greet customers, explain product features, encourage customers to touch products and even work as a personal coach for enhanced skills-based learning.
Roland Memisevic, TwentyBN’s CEO, told Bloomberg, “It is novelty that draws attention but then you really start to feel a connection to her.”
- VNTANA & Mall of America Launch First-Ever Interactive Shopping Hologram Concierge – VNTANA
- At MOA, Ellie the hologram elf can help you find gifts – Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Holographic Models Walk Forever 21’s Runway – RetailWire
- Meet Millie, the First Context-Aware A.I. – TwentyBN
- Meet ‘Millie’ the Avatar. She’d Like to Sell You a Pair of Sunglasses – Bloomberg
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see interactive holographic sales assistants largely serving as attractions for stores or becoming truly beneficial to the purchasing process? What questions or concerns would you have about the emerging technology?