A Futurist Internet: GlassShoppers
The Covid-19 pandemic altered nearly every facet of our day-to-day lives, leading us to rely more heavily on the internet for personal, educational, and transactional interactions. More specifically, the pandemic impacted the way we shop and prompted a 43% rise in e-commerce sales in 2020 (Brewster 2022). However, this trend shows no sign of stopping with projected growth above 10% through 2025 (Statista 2022). With this more permanent dependency on online shopping, the internet could adapt to make online shopping more convenient and efficient with the help of GlassShoppers.
GlassShoppers would connect the current concept of Virtual Reality with online shopping to create a unique 4-Dimensional shopping experience. Like current Virtual Reality devices, GlassShoppers would require a headpiece, however, they would resemble typical eyeglasses. These sleeker glasses would allow for everyday wear and use, no matter the situation, as their 4-Dimensional capability could be turned on or off at any time. The glasses would be automatically connected to the internet, allowing websites to create their own 4-Dimensional shopping experience. Some websites could opt to create an entire virtual storefront, mimicking that of an in-person experience, allowing customers to walk around (in their own space) and examine the actual size and quality of items thus reducing the need for purchases that would ultimately end in returns. Additionally, websites could also adopt a more traditional online shopping experience, a page of images customers scroll through, with the addition of a “test it” function that allows a projection of the item to appear in their own reality wherever they choose.
Currently, a publicly and widely available product like GlassShoppers does not exist. An initial limitation to its production is the development process, specifically of the glasses, as producing a product that ensures extreme accuracy of in-person qualities of the shoppable products is a technologically complex process. An additional hurdle to its consumption and use would likely be the higher price required to purchase a GlassShoppers set.
We can continue to explore the impact of GlassShoppers through the circuit of culture, a tool of analysis that works to determine how an artifact may fit within its culture. This circuit consists of 5 processes, representation, identity, production, regulation, and consumption which allow us to examine and understand an artifact. More specifically, I would like to revisit and focus on the element of consumption, as it relates to GlassShoppers. If widely advertised, I believe the desire for the consumption of GlassShoppers would also be widespread and hypothetical demand would be large. However, as mentioned, if the price point is too high the consumption of GlassShoppers would likely be limited to wealthy customers and companies. But it must be noted that in this more targeted consumption of GlassShoppers, the culture surrounding it, perhaps the discontent with its cost, would also develop and could move to shape the production stage and potentially the lessening of its cost.
Beyond these difficulties, the future possibilities GlassShoppers could provide are exciting and unprecedented. Replicating an in-person shopping experience from the comfort of one’s home, work, or another convenient place could alter the way we shop and eliminate issues of store accessibility and transportation while also reducing returns for online items. This could allow for more free time daily as time spent in the car would be eliminated. One potential risk of GlassShoppers is the decreased sales for in-person stores which offer 4-Dimensional capabilities, however with the current trends toward e-commerce as it is online sales may provide more income to cover these losses and reallocation of resources.
Bureau, U.S. Census. 2022. “Annual Retail Trade Survey Shows Impact of Online Shopping on Retail Sales during COVID-19 Pandemic.” Census.gov, April 26, 2022. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2022/04/ecommerce-sales-surged-during-pandemic.html#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20most%20recent,to%20%24815.4%20billion%20in%202020.
Gay, Paul Du. 2003. “Introduction.” Essay. In Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman, 1–5. Los Angeles Calif., etc.: Sage, 2003.
MacDonald, Jay. 2022. “Smart Glasses: How They Work and What’s Next.” All About Vision. All About Vision, June 15, 2022. https://www.allaboutvision.com/eyeglasses/smart-glasses/.
Statista Authors. 2022. “Topic: Online Shopping Behavior in the United States.” Statista. D. Tighe, May 25, 2022. https://www.statista.com/topics/2477/online-shopping-behavior/#topicHeader__wrapper.