In its continued pursuit to elevate retail technology, Amazon has been awarded a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office for a digital mirror that lets customers virtually try on clothes with different backgrounds.
According to US Patent No. 9858719 (as originally discovered by GeekWire), the system combines a display placed behind a mirror, with the display generating dark and light patterns so that images, such as clothing and backgrounds, are viewable through the mirror.
In addition, projectors would shine on objects in front of the mirror, such as a customer's face, so that they appear reflected in the mirror. In the patent, Amazon calls the concept "blended reality."
In recent years, Amazon has crafted an arsenal of cutting edge products and apps that make it easier for its customers to buy more of its products. In November, the company upgraded its Amazon app for iOS with ARKit capabilities, enabling customers to view furniture and other products as the items might appear in their homes.
While the digital mirror looks like it would fit in with Amazon's Echo line, perhaps as a next-generation Echo Show merged with the Echo Look smart camera, it actually makes more sense in its emerging brick-and-mortar retail strategy.
The company already has Whole Foods under its wing and has opened its first Amazon Go concept store in Seattle. In fact, a digital mirror would be ideal in the augmented and virtual reality stores that the company is reported to have under development.
The technology certainly has a place in the retail augmented reality ecosystem, where companies like MAC Cosmetics and Nike have already set the precedent by deploying virtual mirrors for cosmetics and design projectors for sneakers in their respective stores.
However, for the love of Peter Mark Roget, we don't need another term for augmented reality such as "blended reality." After Microsoft muddied the waters with mixed reality, now everyone from Meta to Magic Leap has their own term for augmented reality. We get it, you need to differentiate your offering from the competition. But, just stop, already.