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New virtual reality system lets consumers make purchases without going to shops


TOKYO -- A venture company set up by a former Sharp Corp. employee has developed a system that uses virtual reality (VR) to allow consumers to make purchases at stores without going there.

The company, Tokyo-based "team S," is aiming to launch full-scale service in 2020 when next-generation telecommunications standard 5G is to be put into practical use. In the future, the company also plans to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) to VR spaces to guide customers inside stores.

"The system will allow consumers to virtually drop in at shops and buy goods they choose. By using VR, 5G and AI, we'd like to create a next-generation online shopping platform," said Akira Takashima, president of team S.

When a customer wears VR glasses or goggles, they can see images of the inside of a shop they want to visit, which are live-streamed via the internet. The customer can verbally order goods from a shop employee and have the items delivered. The system will also allow shops to launch online retailing without opening a website.

A major Japanese communications company has extended technological cooperation to "team S" in developing the system. Specifically, the communications giant arranges two digital cameras in a shop to create 3D images of the inside of the store.

On July 25, the company will conduct its first verification test of the system with the participation of shops dealing with local specialties of Ishikawa Prefecture and residents of Kagoshima Prefecture.

Team S will solicit shops to participate in the system and launch the full-scale new online shopping service in 2020.

The company is also considering allowing customers to freely move inside VR spaces by taking advantage of the expansion of the communications capacity to install many cameras in shops.

(Japanese original by Kei Tsuchiya, Tokyo Business News Department)

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