T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom want to push the boundaries of retail shopping at their stores. So they’re conducting a challenge among young companies to garner new ideas related to virtual stores and next-gen retail products. And there are some interesting ideas among the finalists.
T-Mobile US and T-Labs, Deutsche Telekom’s research and development unit, launched T-Challenge in October. It’s a worldwide competition for startups, developers and designers to showcase innovative ideas for how 5G networks and extended reality (XR) technology can transform the retail industry.
Many of the finalists are using augmented reality (AR) technology, and their solutions could be described as “Metaverse” ideas.
One of the more “out-there” technologies comes from a Seoul, Korea-based company called DeepBrain AI. The company creates digital avatars that have the same appearance, voice, accent and behavioral movement as real people. Its technology has already been deployed at an unmanned 7-Eleven convenience store. Although this digital-twin of an actual human being has limited scope, it can inform customers about methods of payment, products and discounts, and general inquiries.
Another finalist in the T-Challenge is a company called Rooom, based in Jena, Germany. Room has created “The MagentaVerse,” which will be a “mixed reality experience.” Based on Room’s website, it looks like it creates a small, enclosed space where customers can experience 3D realities. The MagentaVerse would be installed at existing retail stores, creating a hybrid experience to merge physical and 3D realities.
Code University, based in Berlin, Germany, has created its own competition for XR and AR artists and sculptors to digitally remodel the interiors of specially selected flagship stores. Working from 3D models of shops, artists will create commissioned works for customers to experience in store using XR.
2Cimple, based in Dallas, Texas, has created a digital game for customers to measure their sustainability impacts such as avoiding CO2 emissions and recycling old smartphones. The game, Nano, is an AI platform that measures the impact of positive deeds resulting in behavior change. It empowers players to compete in a multi-party game as individual players or join teams in Sustainability Championships as part of the Nano Sustainability League.
The 20 finalists are now in the second phase of the competition and will continue to refine their solutions in preparation for an all-expenses paid trip to Bonn, Germany, this June where they will present their solutions to top leaders at Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US.
Six winners of the T-Challenge will split over $500,000 in prize money. Winners will also have the opportunity for their solutions to be featured in T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom retail stores in Europe and the U.S.