Why Retail Must Embrace Spatial Computing Sooner Rather Than Later

Spatial Computing

The retail sector has come a long way since enterprising Ancient Greeks first developed merchant markets to sell their wares. From bustling bazaars to dependable mom-and-pop stores and international e-commerce giants offering guaranteed Next Day Delivery, retail has become one of the world’s leading markets. According to Statista, the global industry generated sales of over $27 trillion in 2022, with the figure set to rise to around $32.8 trillion by 2026. TLDR: humans love spending money.

Clearly, retail did not get to this position by standing still. It evolved thanks to the ingenuity of forward-looking merchants and entrepreneurs, propelled on the unstoppable wave of technological progress. Today, as it was in the past, the retail world relies on the integration of cutting-edge technologies to survive and thrive.

It’s easy to think that we’ve reached the end of the road: that technological advancements have brought us to this point, and we’re now reaping the rewards of peak efficiency. Alas, there’s always another hurdle, another milestone, another level to be unlocked. In the recent past, retail has had cloud migration, contactless payments, and self-checkout. Today, the sector is contemplating nothing less than a revolution through the integration of Extended Reality (XR), IoT, deep learning, and spatial computing. The retail industry of the future is coming into sharp focus.

A Vision of Retail’s Future

It’s no exaggeration to say that one cutting-edge technology, spatial computing, is poised to transform retail in ways few people could scarcely conceive. 

Spatial computing, for the uninitiated, allows digital objects to interact seamlessly with the physical world. The term has gained significant traction of late, particularly due to the release of Apple’s $3,500 Vision Pro headset. That device, which Apple boss Tim Cook cites as a game-changer, will probably do more for the visibility of spatial computing than anything else due to the tech behemoth’s brand recognition and loyal customer base.

Projected to reach a value of $620 billion by 2032, spatial computing promises to forever alter how we live, work and play. In the context of brick-and-mortar retail, though, it brings very particular benefits.

One of the defining features of spatial computing is its ability to create photorealistic 3D models of products and environments, a capability that allows customers to physically interact with virtual objects. Extended Reality tech provides a welcome sense of scale and immersion that traditional online shopping simply cannot match. Even physical shopping is inferior by comparison.

The usage of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) in the context of retail enables customers to experience products in an extremely memorable way, whether they’re shopping online or in a physical space. Imagine, for instance, having the ability to “try on” clothing or jewelry without needing to visit a bricks-and-mortar venue. Or being able to scrutinize a lifelike sportscar from every angle without visiting the showroom. Or seeing how a piece of furniture looks in your living room without getting the item delivered and hauled through the front door.

Spatial computing can also gamify the shopping experience, making the experience more rewarding. For example, retailers could choose to offer a prize to customers who spend the most time browsing in their flagship store, with wearable tech making the process of determining a winner easy. In-store quizzes, treasure hunts, and mini-games can also be facilitated with XR tech.

These are just some examples. In truth, spatial computing can enhance the customer experience in myriad ways: with digital shopping assistants, the introduction of streamlined checkout processes, the implementation of smart parking guidance systems, efficiencies in staff training, improved point-of-sale merchandising, enhanced demand forecasting and inventory management. And on and on.

The Posemesh: A Proving Ground for Retail Evolution

These are not hypothetical scenarios: spatial computing is already being actively used by tens of thousands of retailers, and many more are thinking about adopting it. Pilot schemes, meanwhile, are in progress everywhere.

At the center of this movement is the posemesh, a decentralized spatial computing protocol developed by Auki Labs. Ambitiously designed to onboard the next 100 billion people, devices, and AI, the posemesh is a foundational layer upon which developers can build and launch their own spatial computing applications.

Although Auki Labs have grand visions for the future of the posemesh, much of the current focus, for the reasons stated above, is to bring the posemesh to the retail sector – and vice versa. Indeed, Convergent is one of the leading applications developed by Auki Labs using this protocol. It’s a posemesh-powered augmented reality (AR) application that reduces training costs and simplifies task management in large retail stores.

Convergent offers a range of features tailored for retailers. One key feature is a detailed, searchable map that extends down to individual items on a shelf, enabling staff to quickly find what they’re looking for. It also presents the ability to superimpose spatial digital notes using AR throughout the store. This permits the assignment and tracking of tasks, helping guide employees with in-app navigation and saving management time. In essence, Convergent enhances workplace efficiency and communication.

A project two years in the making, the posemesh has already made waves in retail, with pilot programs underway in some of the world’s largest retail chains. Meanwhile, its implementation in the Plaza Premium Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport was a great showcase of its potential. 

With over 300 decentralized physical infrastructure (dePIN) operators already onboarded and $15 million raised from tech investors, the posemesh and technologies like it are offering advancements that retailers simply cannot afford to ignore.

One can easily imagine stubborn retailers losing ground to competitors by failing to embrace spatial computing, the same way merchants who refused to offer card payments did in the recent past.

The retail industry stands at a crossroads. Soon, embracing spatial computing will no longer be an option but a necessity. The integration of technologies like AR, VR, and MR into retail operations offers an unparalleled opportunity to enhance customer experiences, improve operational efficiency, and stay ahead of the curve in highly competitive markets. Those who move with the times will lead the charge in the coming era of dizzying retail innovation.


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