Shop Talk

the latest updates in online shopping

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.