Mixed Reality Frontiers: How AR Will Solve The Shopping Experience

In 2020, 13 startups enrolled on our Mixed Reality Program with Nreal. The aim? To co-create the next big thing in digital interaction, entertainment and content, and bring mixed reality to the mass market. But who are the startups enrolled on the programme?

We chatted to Graffiti’s co-founder Saïd Hadjiat about picking a great bottle of wine with the help of your phone’s camera lens; why empathy is everything and the flying Marseille entrepreneur who invented the jetpack. 

1. How did you get the idea for the product you’re working on in the MR program?

I was invited for dinner and was looking for a bottle of wine in a supermarket.

I know nothing about wines and using Google would have been useless: keying in a text search for each bottle? Or looking for a best wines rankings and trying to find one of the top-ranked wine among hundreds of bottles in store? A text search was definitely not relevant for that kind of use case.

But it would have been great if I could have “searched according to what I was seeing”, effectively just by letting my phone search for what I was looking at.

That’s what we’re building today: a visual search platform that identifies the physical world and displays an AR layer of relevant information.

2. What problem is this product trying to solve?

2 out of 3 consumers use their smartphone when shopping. They have expectations they want to fulfil and they use their smartphone to find information about products they want to buy: they might browse according to price comparison, reviews, ratings, sustainability, social impact, where the product was produced…

This information exists but may be complicated to find and that’s the problem we’re trying to solve: to locate,just by looking at certain objects or settings, products which consumers are looking for. 

3. What’s the biggest challenge your team faced?

Smart glasses are rather new and so are development tools and user experience guidelines.The biggest challenge we faced was being able to build the user experience we’d imagined despite hardware, software and user feedback limitations.

A good example is hand tracking not being supported by Nreal’s SDK: we had to imagine a brand new way of interacting with the AR interface and the physical environment.

4. What was the moment you realised your product would be a success?

Well… we think our users are the ones who will decide that moment 🙂

5. How has the hubraum program helped you develop your product?

Actually, hubraum didn’t just help: they made it possible! There’s no way we would have launched such an ambitious project without the support and dedication of DT/hubraum’s team. For every issue we’ve faced, including questions about business models, marketing or networking, our mentors supported us in finding the right resource. Kudos to Hristofor, Christoph and Tim 🙌 !

6. How have you found designing a product specifically for the Nreal glasses?

Challenging. Probably because of the nature of our work: computer vision features require a good camera input while Nreal’s glasses are more about the display experience.

7. Make up and answer your own question!

8. What skill of yours has been most important for your career?

It is definitely a soft skill: empathy. The ability to put oneself in the shoes of others in order to understand and solve their problems more effectively. For me, this is the most important quality required for working in a team, especially when you have issues as broad as design, tech and business; especially when you come from such diverse backgrounds and especially when our ways of thinking are very different. It’s also a crucial quality beyond the workplace for understanding and fulfilling our users’ expectations.

9. How do you fuel innovation in your company?

Innovation isn’t possible without taking risks or without intellectual curiosity: it is important to connect team members with one another and to create a climate where no idea is considered foolish, where everyone can feel safe enough to speak and think freely and where they can find creative ways to solve existing problems.

10. What book/album/film has inspired you creatively recently?

It may sound incredibly vintage, but after reading so many inspiring books, from Lean In to Mindset to Becoming, I have to confess that the 2008 Jim Carrey film Yes Man has become an endless source of inspiration and creativity. We are often exhorted to get out of our comfort zone in a way that seems difficult and painful, but this film shows another path, a path of enthusiasm, of embracing the unknown with joy and the most ingenious curiosity.

11. Which other entrepreneur/startup are you most inspired by?

There is a man from Marseille who invented the FlyBoard (a type of jetpack/hoverboard powered by gas turbines), crossed the Manche with it, and is creating the first flying car. His name is Franky Zapata.

12. What’s the one tip you would give young entrepreneurs?

To take note of her ideas, however far-fetched they may seem, not to lose sight of her childlike soul, to invent things that you only see in movies, to remain humble, to listen to her instincts, to screw up, to start over again by being much stronger, to never get discouraged, to find magical people to work with every day. And of course, when the rules seem unfair, to break them and move beyond them. You said one tip, right? 

Fancy taking part in our next XR program? Don’t delay, apply for our XR developer program now.

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