The winners of the TechCrunch Disrupt 2016 Hackathon offered a glimpse into the future of mobile-based sales by creating an augmented reality application that gives shoppers the opportunity to instantly research and buy products through their phones.
Yosun Chang and Anuj Agrawal of Pointshop.space took the top prize by hacking an app that allows smartphone users to scan a product using the phone’s camera and gather information about that product, the company that produces it, and similar products.
The app also gives users the option of buying that product with a simple touch of their screens.
The developers built the app using the Crunchable API to pull in product and company data, Mapquest’s API to show users where they can buy the product, and SAP Hybris’ as a Service to buy the product online.
In demonstrating the hack, Agrawal showed how a user could point a smartphone at a device such as an Apple iPhone and quickly compare it with other products, see headlines and information about Apple, and get information about accessories.
When the user wants to compare the iPhone with, say, a Samsung Galaxy phone, he or she is able to see images of the products side-by-side so they can compare size, features and reviews.
While other developers have used augmented reality to create product recommendations, the PointShop.space hack stands out because of its simple user interface.
“It’s a friendly presentation, the way it’s interactive,” Agrawal said in TechCrunch.
The Pointshop.space interface presents product information in a grid-like layout, with elegant lines that connect users to easy-to-follow captions and images.
The contest required hackers to build their entries in less than 24 hours — meaning that they were able to swiftly hack existing APIs that provide robust product information, mapping tools and e-commerce capabilities.
The takeaway is clear: Consumers will soon have the kind of tools that give them the right information on demand when they are ready to make a purchase. And, those tools will give every customer a clear and simple path to complete that transaction, almost instantly.
It’s easier than ever for developers to create highly personalized mobile experiences for consumers — and it’s only a matter of time before smart companies are able to leverage augmented reality as a sales channel.