Dyson Demo VR
As the pandemic converted even more consumers to the wonders of e-commerce, U.K. appliance powerhouse Dyson faced a conundrum: how to show the value of its high-end products without a customer checking them out in person. The solution? Harness the same virtual reality (VR) technology the company has used to prototype, test and develop products for the past decade.
Unveiled in November, the Dyson Demo VR is being touted as a first-of-its-kind virtual boutique available through Meta Quest (formerly known as Facebook’s Oculus). The online showroom is meant to bring the experience of one of Dyson’s 318 brick-and-mortar demo stores into an immersive e-commerce environment. Using a VR headset, customers can pick up and interact with Dyson products in a 3D world—from trialing a new cordless vacuum to getting an insider’s tour of just how that fancy Dyson hair dryer works.
“Online retail today doesn’t give you the product experience that many customers would like to have,” says Sean Newmarch, Dyson’s global e-commerce director. “Using VR, we have been able to create an authentic experience—taking our engineering and product-driven philosophy to enable customers to get closer to our machines and experience how they handle, how they perform and how they deliver superior performance.”
To bridge the gap between online and offline, Dyson engineers collaborated with several internal teams on the project. And it turns out they already had a healthy head start. By using the same VR tools engineers had been relying on to develop, test and iterate products, the company was able to quickly stand up its virtual showroom.
The team used existing computer-aided design models and software algorithms to tailor how each product would look, handle and perform in the virtual world—matching everything from airflow physics to movement mechanics. And to offer a little something extra for shoppers, they incorporated interactive features that could help communicate signature aspects of Dyson technology. For example, customers can test out the company’s much-buzzed-about Supersonic hair dryer on a 3D tress and then view the infrared spectrum to explore how it controls air temperature and prevents heat damage to the hair. Visual animations and interviews with Dyson engineers are also built into the experience to help educate users about the products.
Demo users can currently interact with a handful of Dyson hair care products and soon will be able to test out a new cordless vacuum that uses laser technology to expose hidden dust. But the company plans to expand the experience to include all its product categories, as well as add new features, including a checkout function and live conversation capabilities.
The move comes as all retailers brace for the rise of the metaverse. And for Dyson, the demo project is just the beginning. From offering virtual store tours to one-on-one video demos, the company is quickly expanding its direct-to-consumer retail approach, Newmarch says. “Virtual reality is part of a much broader ecosystem of technologies we are exploring to bring our machines closer to our shoppers and owners.”
Next on the agenda? Using augmented reality to help customers select the Dyson products best suited to their homes.
Photo courtesy of Dyson