Emily Paterson, Emma Saddleton, Nisan Ilciz and Rebecca Cohen bring you a summary of the last fortnight's top stories in technology, media, mobile and social.

Augmented reality Retail Virtual Reality Instagram

Zara is Investing in AR Kit for Stores

Next month, fashion retailer, Zara will be launching a two-week test with augmented reality (AR) in 120 of their flagship stores. Customers will be offered the opportunity to hold up their phones to store windows and sensors, which allow them to see models come to life on their screens. These models will virtually walk around, wearing the selected clothes from Zara.

Video via Economiá Digital.

But it’s not only in physical stores Zara wants to attract customers with AR. The functionality also allows app users at home to check out the visuals when they hold their device over a delivery from the brand.

The retailer will also start using automated kiosks in-store, as well as package-picking robots in stock rooms to accelerate the in-store click-and-collect process. 

You Can Now Shop While You Scroll - Instagram Launches Shopping Ads

Instagram has officially launched their Shopping product in the UK, having trialled it in the US last year.

Rolling out to Australia, Brazil, Canada and other parts of Europe as well as the UK, the option now allows users to click easily from an outfit they've seen on a post to purchase the product and get the look. The move has been successful for brands in the US, with the hope that the same popularity and traffic-to-site is seen this side of the pond.

So far it has only trialled with fashion brands, but this could provide options for a broader range of categories such as toys or consumer goods. Removing barriers to purchase will continue to be a goal for companies, so this product will allow a simple, clean way of providing product details for consumers without a huge level of copy.

As if you needed another excuse to buy that top from ASOS.

Using VR to Introduce the Blind to Iconic Sculptures

The National Gallery of Prague launched Touching Masterpieces, a campaign that allows visually-impaired visitors to touch iconic sculptures in virtual space. Three of the world's most iconic sculptural masterpieces; the bust of Nefertiti, Venus de Milo and Michelangelo's David, have been transformed into virtual objects which people will "see" through haptic glove technology for the very first time.

The haptic gloves control realistic hands in virtual space. When the virtual hand touches a 3D object in the virtual world, the technology identifies the object and sends feedback in the form of vibrations. The Avatar VR glove has been customised for this project by being enriched with multi-frequency technology able to stimulate different types of skin cells' tactile responses - to provide the blind with the most accurate perception of the 3D virtual object.

Knorr launches the "world's first Instagram powered restaurant."

Food brand Knorr plans to engage a younger audience with a one-off dining experience where diners will be served a meal based on their Instagram feeds prepared using Knorr's stock.

The brand developed Eat your Feed, a bespoke AI algorithm that examines a customer's posts, analysing the content, time, caption and geotagged locations before providing a personalised, relevant one-pot recipe using Knorr products.


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