"Store Trek" Turns Shopping into a Video Game

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Keytree is developing an application that allows users to shop using the XBOX Kinect. The Kinect works much like the Nintento Wii in that it tracks users' movements and immerses them into virtual reality on their TV screen. With "Store Trek", Keytree is gathering and analyzing the shopping patterns found within Tesco, Amazon, and Ebay to personalize a user's shopping experience and create a 3D shopping environment. Essentially, this application is a video game that allows you to buy products in a virtual store tailored to you. And it's on the Cloud.

The video (I must say, pretty cheesy) can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnXxOCUgQAY

In 202 terms, Keytree is organizing shopping resources for each user based on the ontology of its shopping database. "Store Trek" determines the relationship amongst the following three questions to personalize your 3D environment:

(From a database of 21.2 million shoppers per week)
1) What are the important products to the user?
2) Which products have similar customers purchased?
3) What is the frequency of the products purchased?

While "Store Trek" appears to be ideal in that it creates your perfect store in which you can walk around pixelated aisles and browse products, I question the actual user experience and customer satisfaction. The interaction that Keytree is designing is one which seems to contradict the spontaneity and speed of traditional online shopping. For example, why spend time moving around your XBOX Kinect to browse aisles when you can simply type in a product on Amazon or Ebay and instantly find it? And if you really need the exercise, why not drive to the store (and walk around there)?

I do see the potential in the random products one may bump into and find themselves liking when walking around their 3D store, but this is not something new to the 2D shopping experience found in Amazon. "Similar products" and "recommended for you" exist in most online shopping environments, notably Zappos and Amazon. One assumption Keytree makes is that people are attached to the physical layout of traditional stores, with their aisles and shelves and check-out lines, but with the transformation of our generation's shopping habits, I envision most people in the future preferring the 2D instantaneous digital landscape. 

Let's say "Store Trek" is a huge success. I wonder what effect this will have on our daily routines. Nuclear families may become more nuclear, isolated from the human interactions found in physical stores. Need milk? Turn on the XBOX and have it shipped to your door. I can't help but imagine a dystopian future in which shopping is a video game.