NEW YORK: Two unexpected entrants to virtual reality, the long-touted next-big-technology, have announced their engagement with the tech: high-end retailer Barneys New York and slightly less high-end Walmart.

According to MediaPost, Barneys New York, has released an “experience” via Samsung VR, which blends the retailer’s fashion with advanced tech and modern dance in an 11-minute extravaganza. It will also offer the experience in store.  

“Within VR and 360 environments, as well as through the variety of formats we’ve created, no two viewers will have the same experience of the dance, and that’s exciting,” said Barneys creative director Matthew Mazzucca, announcing the ad.

The specially choreographed ad, which took over a year to create, was designed, he said, to create “an audience of one”. It has released a teaser on social media channels.

Meanwhile, mass-market retailer Walmart last month announced the acquisition of VR company Spatialand, through the company’s innovation lab, Store No. 8, in an effort to “explore the transformational effects of virtual reality in commerce”.

In a blog post, Store No. 8 noted that the technology has become widely regarded as a buzzword, but expanded on its intent to “explore the transformational effects of virtual reality in commerce”.

It noted its uncovering of “an underlying ecosystem of companies and technologies that, when applied to retail, created a game-changing customer journey.”  

Since the 1980s and Jaron Lanier’s experiments with the technology, virtual reality has often shown to be more promise than substance. Advances in both computing and connectivity are bringing these experiences closer. In January, a number of tech companies with interest in the technology suggested that the development of standalone devices had the potential to amplify interest.

The Taiwanese company TrendForce forecasts global shipments of VR devices to grow from 2.7m units in 2017 to reach 5m units this year, but does not expect significant growth in shipments until 2020.

Sourced from MediaPost, Barneys, Walmart, TrendForce, WARC