This month, China’s Alibaba teamed up with Macy’s, Target, CostCo, Tokyo Otaku Mode and other retailers on a virtual reality shopping experience to promote the Chinese 11.11 shopping holiday, Single’s Day.
In October, Alibaba began selling Google cardboard style VR headsets via it’s online shopping platform Taobao. Then, between Nov. 1-11, customers were able to use the headsets via Taobao’s app to virtually stroll through and shop at stores, such as Macy’s New York flagship store, seen in the video below.
The app featured Alibaba’s new VR payment technology, VR Pay, which allows users using VR headsets to browse through virtual shopping malls and pay for purchases without taking off the headsets, by simply nodding their head for confirmation.
VR Pay was hinted at earlier this year via some interesting preview videos called Buy + VR, which promised a realease of the technology by the end of the year.
In September 2016, Ant Financial Services Group, which operates Alipay (China’s largest online payments service with more than 450 million daily users) bought U.S.company EyeVerify, a maker of optical verification technology used by U.S. banks including Wells Fargo.
Eye tracking is one of the next critical steps being developed by the leading VR HMD manufacturers, and if Alipay can add optical verification to it’s new VR related services, then shopping in VR will be a huge strategic advantage by the Chinese VR industry.
So many interesting things are coming out of Chinaa’s VR industry this year. We will continue to watch this as it evolves.