An iPhone app being developed by IBM Research in Haifa is promising to revolutionize mobile shopping.

According to an announcement released Monday by the Haifa facility, the first-of-its-kind mobile augmented reality app being developed will make it possible for consumers to pan store shelves with their cameras on their mobile devices and receive personalized product information, recommendations and coupons while they browse the aisles.

Superimposed information provided by the app will point out products that the shopper prefers, based on previous purchases, or other parameters ranging from price and consumer rating to sodium content or environmentally friendly packaging, according to Sima Nadler, IBM Research’s retail coordinator.

Upon entering a store, consumers will download the app and create a profile of the product features that matter to them. When they point their device’s video camera at merchandise, the app will instantly recognize products and, via augmented reality technology, overlay digital details on the images – like ingredients, price, reviews and discounts that apply that day.

According to Nadler, the app addresses the fundamental gap between the wealth of readily available product details on the Web that in-store shoppers don’t have access to – despite the fact that in-store shopping accounts for more than 92 percent of the retail volume.

“In the age of social media, consumer expectations are soaring and people want information and advice about the products they’re going to buy,” Nadler said. “By closing the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience, marketers can appeal to the individual needs of consumers and keep them coming back.”

For example, using IBM’s prototype app, a shopper looking for breakfast cereal could specify they want a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers and on sale. As the shopper pans his or her mobile device’s camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented shopping app will reveal which cereals meet the criteria and also provides a same-day coupon to entice consumers to make a purchase.

The IBM Haifa research facility was established in 1972 and is the company’s biggest research center outside the US.

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