Is Intel's 'Connected Store' Concept the Future of Retail?

The chip giant teams with MIT Media Lab, Best Buy and others to show off some high tech retailing concepts.
Posted January 11, 2011

David Needle

If you build it, others will too? Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and several big name partners showed off some new, tech-driven concepts for retailing as part of a two-story, 2,400 square-foot futuristic storefront it created for the National Retail Federation Convention this week in New York.

The mock Connected Store features fast food, grocery and big box electronics retail scenarios with the latest tech enhancements. "We've partnered with several big brands to show off how a digital experience can bring in more buyers," Chris O'Malley, Intel's director of retail marketing, told

Intel partnered with Adidas, Best Buy, Kraft Foods, MIT Media Lab and Procter & Gamble to create the Connected Store.

Some of the new concepts use off-the-shelf technology, including Intel's chips, and are ready to implement, while others are a bit farther off.

O'Malley described a video wall concept that Adidas plans to rollout to its retailers worldwide over the next 12 months. Adidas offers over 4,000 different shoes but stores can typically only carry 200 to 300 pairs in multiple sizes. At the retail conference, Adidas is showing off adiVERSE, a virtual search engine footwear wall of 12 video screens that's designed to give consumers access to all of the company's products.

The videos include demos, celebrity endorsements and transaction capabilities. "It's an immersive experience," said O'Malley. "And if a shoe isn't in stock, they can order it right there for pickup at the store or shipped to their house within 48 hours."

He also said smaller retailers will be able to use a two video wall system that still connects to the entire line of Adidas footwear.

MIT Media Lab helped develop a video system that lets consumers interact with a touchscreen demo of products on any flat surface in the store. "You could even connect to Skype and talk to a remote expert," said O'Malley. "This kind of thing is farther off, but Best Buy is very excited about it."

Intel also announced the Intel AIM Suite at the retail conference. The AIM suite is a video analytics technology for anonymous audience measurement in retail and digital signage applications in traditional storefronts. The AIM Suite anonymously monitors viewer metrics such as age, gender and length of attention. The idea is to help retailers and advertisers deliver more targeted content for individual viewers and track their return on investment with greater accuracy. Intel said a number of brands, including Harley-Davidson* in Canada, NEC and The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas plan to use AIM Suite.

NPD retail analyst Stephen Baker said retailers have to keep up with the latest technology to continue to attract consumers. "It's part of the evolution of merchandising to maximize the store visit," Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group, told

"There are wave pools and rock climbing at some stores and we're going to keep on seeing new things to keep consumers interested in the shopping experience," he added. "The other key trend is more backend technology connecting with the front end and we're seeing that with the kind of digital signage products Intel is promoting that gets the latest product information in front of consumers, including pricing and what's in stock."

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Intel's 'Connected Store' video wall

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

Tags: video, Intel, analytics, retail, Best Buy

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