Rajiv Srivastava’s company NextGen is continually looking to enhance and augment the virtual shopping experience.
It all started with an electric shaver. In 2012, Rajiv Srivastava ordered a coveted razor off a website but when the product finally landed on his doorstep, it was vastly different from what was shown on the computer screen during purchase. Srivastava, an experienced tech salesperson, decided to start NextGen Shopping, with hopes of rendering products more accurately online.
After years of research, his Singapore-based company developed proprietary technology, allowing for a more realistic and magnified view of individual products displayed online. With smooth 3D-imaging and 360-degree views of the product, customers can zoom in and out, rotate it in all directions, read specifications with full clarity and get some sort of ‘hands-on’ experience with a product.
One of NextGen’s greatest successes stems from its breakthrough in reducing the size of applied images from megabytes to mere kilobytes, which not only means a lighter load on websites and network-storage spaces but also allows for seamless interaction and near-perfect renderings.
The 3D-animated experience powered by NextGen’s technology has also been extended to augmented reality (AR), with the use of the company’s own customised app. Pointing to any specially marked form of products, from watches and jewellery, to furniture and food, users can experience a live demo with animated features via their smartphones or tablets that highlights textures and quality. If it’s a watch (such as the Montblanc Summit Smartwatch on our June issue’s cover), you can place your hand in frame and the AR app, developed exclusively for HighEnd Media, will work its magic, allowing you to virtually wear the model on your wrist — presenting a new way to discover luxury items at home or on the go.
“Our objective is to make familiar things new and new things familiar with our transmedia 3D content distribution platform,” says Gupta VK, chief technology officer of NextGen. “The key challenge has been that there is no parallel to the whole concept and no references to go by. It’s like swimming in a big blue ocean filled with adventure and uncertainty at every step.”
While the team at NextGen sees potential beyond e-commerce, adding a novel way to view magazine covers into their portfolio, they are still set on taking the online shopping world by storm. With big existing clients such as Croma from Tata Group, one of India’s largest industrial conglomerates; BKT Tyres; and Space Matrix, an interior design firm in Singapore, NextGen wants to continue to enhance consumer experiences by creating a virtual shopping mall.
Srivastava explains: “None of today’s e-commerce players have attempted to differentiate the experience of shopping online. However, if one was to give customers shopping online a tangible experience right in the comfort of their homes or office, potential buyers would not have to take time off to visit actual stores to have a feel of desired products before deciding to buy. The whole sales cycle would be much shorter.”
He adds: “With new technologies emerging for mobile and desktop devices, including some which are developed at Nextgen, the online shopping experience of buyers will be enhanced multi-fold. This not only means an opportunity for large number of skilled people in modelling, texturing, lighting and animation; but also for web programmers and developers who understand the graphics segment."
NextGen, with a development facility in India, is working on the next big thing to bring its vision of a virtual shopping mall to life: mixed reality. Still, the key challenge with making mixed reality a ‘reality’ is device penetration. Gupta says: “The existing virtual reality [VR] headsets are inconvenient. Therefore, we are developing custom hardware to make do without the use of conventional VR headsets for holographic displays and gaming consoles.”
HighEnd Media has partnered with NextGen Shopping for an interactive print venture to create the HighEnd Media app. For more information, visit highend.media/augmented-reality-app
This article originally appeared on the Future issue of BLLNR Singapore. For more stories like this, get a copy of the magazine at select bookstores islandwide.