Shop Talk

the latest updates in online shopping

Advertisement shown only to women April 1, 2012

Filed under: Other — Emily Wagner @ 8:57 pm

We’ve been talking in class a lot lately about how recent media developments have created huge opportunities for advertisements.  I was reading the news and came across a story that I thought was an interesting example of this.

There is a new interactive outdoor advertisement at a bus stop on Oxford Street in London.  The ad has a high definition camera that scans the faces of people at the bus stop and determines if they’re male or female.  It does this by measuring the distance between the eyes, the width of the nose, length of jaw line and shape of cheekbone.  The technology has a 90% accuracy rate.

The aim of the ad is to show a 40-second advertisement to only women and girls.  The ad was purchased for 30,000 pounds by Plan UK a not for profit organization that works “with the world’s poorest children so they can move themselves from a life of poverty to a future with opportunity.”  If the camera scans a male, the screen will direct him to Plan UK’s website instead of showing the 40-second clip.

The full advertisement shows three 13 year old girls from the UK, Mali and Thailand talking about their lives.  The ad highlights the    issues of women and girls in developing countries who face poverty and discrimination.  Marie Staunton, chief executive of Plan UK says the purpose of showing this ad only to women was to show men “a glimpse of what it’s like to have basic choices taken away.”

None of the data gathered is stored, the charity assured.  The ad will show for two weeks and Plan UK hopes to raise 250,000 pounds over four months to provide access to education for girls from poor families.

I think that this is an interesting and clever new form of advertising.  This is a way for the advertisement to not only show their cause about gender discrimination but also to demonstrate it.  Not only will this ad work in the traditional way of attracting attention by people waiting for the bus, but it is attracting attention by the news.  News sites are reporting about the technology and the new idea of showing the advertisement to a select group only.  Advertising on the internet can very easily only show their ads to a preferred demographic but this hasn’t been seen in outdoor ads.  I think that this was a creative way to prove a point and to get more people to talk about the charity and spread the ideas of Plan UK through word of mouth.


Singing with your hands March 26, 2012

Filed under: Other — Emily Wagner @ 11:30 pm

Yamaha has developed a new keyboard that allows musicians to sing without opening their mouths.  A new solution for the musically inclined who have not mastered the art of singing, this keyboard prototype has users input lyrics with the left hand, and music with the right.

The current commercial version of Vocaloid 3 requires users to input music and lyrics on a PC prior to performance.  With this new keyboard, a live singing synthesizer is an option.

The Vocaloid keyboard prototype is manufactured for Japanese users.  There are 16 buttons for inputting consonants, vowels, and two types of voicing marks used in the Japanese written language with the left hand.  There are then keys of a piano to the right. The entered text is displayed by an LED display above the keys to allow the content to be checked.  There are also three knobs to the left of the display to adjust the vocal sound.

A Yamaha spokesman says that the keyboard is not only great for live performance but also may be easier for those able to play a keyboard who are not comfortable with the current Vocaloid computer software.

A concern might be the difficulty of playing the keyboard.  Typing lyrics as you’re playing the music seems overwhelming.  The Yamaha spokesman also said that several keyboard players evaluating the system were able to perform simple nursery rhymes after about three hours.

Currently, Yamaha has no plans to release the Vocaloid commercially but says that the device’s sound chip can be provided to other companies who are interested in pursuing it.

I think that this is an extremely interesting piece of technology with great potential.  I don’t think that synthetic singing will ever be as good as a great live singer but this could be a cool way for people to get their songs out there if they’re not comfortable singing.  This would also be a great way for songwriters to present their songs to singers who want to perform them.

Here is a video of the Vocaloid keyboard in action:


Second Life March 11, 2012

Filed under: New shopping technology — Emily Wagner @ 11:21 pm

What retailers have noticed about online shopping is that most people go to their computer for a specific item but not as much to browse with friends as a social activity.  Some websites are trying to change this.  Second Life is a computer application that turns online shopping into a virtual world.  The best way I can describe it is a mixture between online shopping and playing the Sims.

In order to join this virtual world, a new user must download the software and register with the site.  This is all free.  Once you’re on, you create an avatar.  Once the software is launched, your avatar is standing in what looks like a video game composed of all three-dimensional graphics.

All money in Second Life is in “Linden Dollars (L$).” This is because Linden Labs is the company that developed and runs Second Life.  There’s a currency exchange where users can buy Linden Dollars with real US money or trade their Linden Dollars that they won’t be using back to U.S. dollars.  With Linden Dollars users can purchase land in Second Life and build whatever they want.  This gives creative freedom to users to build structures that are physically impossible in the real world by writing code using a built-in scripting language.  With this code, users can also create objects that can be sold to other members, like clothing or jewelry for their avatars, or furniture for their virtual homes.  Second Life is also very social.  As avatars cross paths they can communicate via body language and instant messaging.

In May 2006, American Apparel became the first real-word retailer to open a store in Second Life.  The outlet is still present in Second Life.  While in American Apparel you have the option to purchase displayed items with Linden dollars for your avatar to wear.  There is also a “Go to page” button which will launch a browser and take you to American Apparel’s company website for the real version of the jacket.  With the social aspect of the site you would be able to ask users around you what they think about the jacket.

Though this is a cool idea and might be fun to mess around with for a couple days, I don’t think that having a video game with three dimensional graphics adequately replaces shopping.  The social aspect could be fun; You could have the chance to ask many people you don’t know where they are buying clothes and what they think a good store is on Second Life.  However, I don’t think that teenagers are going to start choosing to stay home to play a video game of shopping instead of going to the mall with their friends.


pictures from: Social Shopping: How technology is reshaping the consumer experience in apparel retailing


Shopping Mall…on Facebook? March 4, 2012

Filed under: Shopping hints — Emily Wagner @ 10:07 pm

Shopping Mall powered by Payvment, is a Facebook App that offers a virtual shopping mall with over 100,000 merchants selling on Facebook.  I know a lot about shopping malls. I live less than twenty minutes away from King of Prussia Mall which is the largest shopping mall on the East Coast and larger than the Mall of America in terms of leasable retail space.  I’ve spent a lot of time there but the massive size of this mall is still daunting.  It’s hard to know where to go; I’ve gotten lost in that mall a few times.  

This is what makes a virtual shopping mall on Facebook so great.  Not only does it have 250 times more stores than one of the largest malls in the country, but it’s all online. That means no transportation, no walking in between stores, no lugging bags around, and all of your purchases are delivered to your door- or whichever door you want your gifts to be sent to.



Google Glasses February 26, 2012

Filed under: Other — Emily Wagner @ 4:48 pm

This post is admittedly veering away from this blog’s typical range of topics. However, I was surfing the web and found something really interesting concerning new media frontiers and thought I’d share.  Just think of it as something you could potentially buy online in the future–maybe by the end of this year??

What I’m talking about is Google glasses.  A number of anonymous Google employees have reported that the company is currently developing Android-powered glasses.  The glasses will supposedly resemble a design similar to the Oakley Thumps (below) but with a few extra buttons on the sides.

.So why is this cool?  Using wireless connection or 3G/4G connections, these glasses will tap into Google’s cloud and inform the user on their environment, including locations or friends nearby, and objects that they look at.  These glasses will also work as a smartphone, with the ability to make calls, use certain apps, and connect with friends.  Using GPS and motion sensors these glasses will be able to provide real time information on user’s location.

The glasses will feature a low-resolution camera on the front for gathering information to relay to a small screen built into one side of the lenses. You will not be able to see through this screen but it will be located to the side so your vision will not be obscured.  This camera will also be able to take pictures and will include a built-in flash.

One Google employee said the glasses would tap into a number of Google software products that are currently available and in use today, but will display the information in an augmented reality view, rather than as a Web browser page like those that people see on smartphones.

When I first read this, I was confused about how the glasses would work.  What I’ve gathered is that as you’re reading through the information you will have to tilt your head to scroll and click.  I’m not exactly sure how or what that means but sources at Google have noted that this function is a lot eaiser to use than it sounds and that these movements will hardly be noticable to others.  That’s comforting to hear but I’m a little doubtful that random jerks of the head will not seem like odd behavior.

Unnamed employees told the New York Times that the new Google glasses are expected to be priced much like a current smartphone (around $250-$600) and are aimed for a 2012 release date.

This post reminds me of Lauren’s post iContacts.  Instead of contacts these are glasses and seem to be almost done with their design period.  Something that immediately came to mind was how little I’d have to carry around if these became successful.  Years ago, before leaving the house people would have to grab their cell phones, mp3 players, and planners.  These days the only thing I ever have to carry with me is my iphone.  Maybe one day people would only have to carry their glasses.

Personally, I think that these glasses seem really cool.  I’m still a little confused about how easy they will be to use and I’m not aware of all of their functions.  I’m excited to see what becomes of them if Google does release them by the end of the year.


Hungry? February 19, 2012

Filed under: Shopping hints — Emily Wagner @ 3:33 pm

If the answer is yes, ordering food online is getting progressively easier.  Food is only a few clicks away.  Everyone is aware that restaurants now have websites that allow you to easily order online. This is extremely convenient when you have a computer and internet access around. But it’s annoying when all you have is your phone.

There’s an app for that.  Not surprisingly, restaurants have taken advantage of smart phones.  Everyone almost always has their cell phone attached to them and you do not need access to wifi to get online.

Here are a few apps that you should download in case hunger strikes you when all you have is your phone/ipod:



Cyber Monday February 13, 2012

Filed under: Shopping websites — Emily Wagner @ 12:33 am

Cyber Monday is the term given to the Monday immediately following Black Friday.  It’s the biggest and greatest day for online shopping of the year.  It got its start from Americans taking advantage of the high-speed Internet connections at work to buy items they couldn’t find in the stores after a long Thanksgiving weekend of shopping.

Some of the great things about Cyber Monday:

  • Shop in comfort.  There’s no need to go out into the chaos of Black Friday.  You can stay at home in your pajamas with your laptop and shop in peace.
  • No lines.  Just a few simple clicks.
  • Fantastic deals.  As day has become better known, more and more stores are taking advantage and offering amazing deals.