NIKEiD Debuts New Augmented Reality Customization Service

Sneaker customization just got a whole lot smarter.

This month, Nike is debuting a groundbreaking new technology in its Paris flagship store on the Champs-Élysées that can transform any object into a screen. The system, developed by French startup SmartPixels, combines augmented reality and video-mapping techniques and is being trialled to enhance the brand’s NIKEiD service.

Simply place one of three sneaker models — the Cortez, Air Max or Lunarepic Low — onto a plinth, and a projector on the device will instantly recognize the model and configure itself accordingly. You can then manipulate the shoe via a tablet, choosing color or texture combinations, which are projected onto the sneaker, exactly mimicking the final product.

It’s basically virtual reality without recourse to those pesky headsets and a super-precise harnessing of the technology currently employed to project images onto buildings. The SmartPixels application was initially developed for prototyping, enabling manufacturers to see different products before they were created without expending time and resources on mockups.

“Our main concern is making our technology relevant to what the brands need now,” said SmartPixels business developer Samuel Burlac, “and customization a very strong trend. Clients want to reinvent their physical presence in store and this technology can transform any object into a supportive means of communication; no one even looks at regular screens in stores any more.”

Also on display in another part of the store is a sneaker on which Nike animations are projected.

The application will be tried out in Paris for six months. As well as adding value to the customer experience, there’s ultimately a bigger picture where retailers are concerned. “In terms of data-gathering via customer interaction,” Burlac said, “we’ll be able to tell them the most popular models and combinations to help them optimize their stock.”

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