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Episode 348
April 19, 2024

Blink to Pay

Spatial commerce is all the rage thanks to the Apple Vision Pro… but are brands using it correctly? Phillip and Brian chat with a friend of the pod, Rob Petrosino, on the future of (spatial) commerce and digital twinning. Listen now!

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Spatial commerce is all the rage thanks to the Apple Vision Pro… but are brands using it correctly? Phillip and Brian chat with a friend of the pod, Rob Petrosino, on the future of (spatial) commerce and digital twinning. Listen now! 

Your home is the store of the future

Key takeaways:

- Spatial computing is nascent, with current devices being bulky and heavy. The form factor is a challenge for consumer adoption but has more immediate applications in specific industries like design and repair.

- The adoption of head-mounted displays for B2B use cases is likely to outpace consumer adoption due to cost considerations.

- Digital twinning is a crucial aspect of spatial computing, allowing for accurate 3D representations of physical products and spaces. This technology has potential in various industries like fashion, interior design, and personalized shopping experiences.

- AI plays a significant role in optimizing spatial experiences by offering predictive analytics, personalized recommendations, and conversational commerce. It accelerates the adoption curve by analyzing vast amounts of data to enhance user experiences.

- The future of commerce lies in combining physical spaces with digital experiences to create immersive shopping environments. Brands should focus on telling engaging stories through spatial design that involves narrative elements.

- The implementation of pay-with-biometrics technology in physical stores is a precursor to what might be possible in spatial commerce.

- In terms of current apps on Apple Vision Pro, there is room for improvement in providing novel experiences that are seamlessly integrated with fully-fledged ecommerce capabilities.

  • {00:10:22} - “If you look at calculators, you had a massive computer that was the size of a room for a calculator. You had, you know, the evolution of the TI83, and now you have a calculator on your phone. You're going to see the same progression. We're at the biggest and worst the devices will ever be. It'll only get smaller, better, faster, which will increase adoption.” - Rob
  • {00:17:21} - “Having that digital twin is really a massive form factor for these experiences because having a 360 degree experience around something is really where we are going when it comes to any experience, but specifically the commerce space.” - Rob
  • {00:24:08} - “How do I combine {the physical and the digital} into a live experience using a magic mirror or a head mounted display or a personal device that kind of enhances that experience? So that's where I see the evolutionary path. And I think all of those are possible, and that's the leading indicator is you're starting to see organizations bring physical spaces into digital experiences.
  • {00:29:49} - “The amount of data that we throw off in our digital footprints is exceptionally high. When you start plugging in artificial intelligence to that, it now gives a massive pool of data.” - Rob
  • {00:43:55} - “It seems like the people that went to go build the first experiences maybe weren't perfectly aligned with the purchaser of the Apple Vision Pro. I feel like there's a huge opportunity. The Apple Vision Pro is one of the greatest signifiers of a type of buyer that has existed in the past 10 years.” - Brian
  • {00:47:21} - “There might be a skew here that we just haven't picked up on yet where there might be an opportunity to reach a more affluent female crowd that we just haven't tapped into yet because we tend to think of tech adopters and early adopters as being older affluent males. So there's maybe also a little bias in the way that we think about how these things are being built.” - Phillip

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Phillip: [00:00:04] Hello, and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast at the intersection of culture and commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:32] I'm Brian. Today we have...

Phillip: [00:01:35] No. Hold on. Hold on. You can't go there yet.

Brian: [00:01:37] Oh. Oh. Oh.

Phillip: [00:01:38] I just had to run out and answer the door. Hold on. Something you can't do in spatial commerce yet, I ordered bundt cakes, Brian.

Brian: [00:01:48] Nothing Bundt Cakes?

Phillip: [00:01:49] Nothing Bundt Cake. And I love a carrot cake. You know I love a carrot cake.

Brian: [00:01:53] You do love a carrot cake.

Phillip: [00:01:54] Yeah. Really, really convenient. Dude, they charge, like, $14 for these things on DoorDash.

Brian: [00:02:03] For the little tiny one? For that little cake there?

Phillip: [00:02:05] Don't get me started. I have a very busy meeting scheduled today. I don't have time to go pick stuff up.

Brian: [00:02:11] Baby bundt cake.

Phillip: [00:02:12] Yeah. We have a birthday party tonight. Baby bundt cake. Baby bundt cake. That's also our next guest's nickname from high school, Baby Bundt Cake.

Brian: [00:02:22] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:02:23] He is the Head of Thought Leadership and leading the charge in a lot of conversation around spatial commerce and hot off a Good Morning America appearance, rob? Welcome to the stage and my friend, but new guest here. first time to Future Commerce as sitting in the hot seat. It's Rob Petrosino from PeakActivity. Welcome, Rob.

Rob: [00:02:44] Yeah. Thank you for having me. And I would be remiss if I didn't tell you it was the Today Show and someone yelled at me from the PR world.

Phillip: [00:02:50] Oh, I'm so sorry.

Brian: [00:02:52] No {laughter}

Rob: [00:02:53] They're next, as far as I'm concerned.

Phillip: [00:02:55] That's great.

Rob: [00:02:56] Just manifesting the future.

Phillip: [00:02:57] No. That's great. I love that. And what I have done here is I've demonstrated just before we started recording here something you can't do in spatial commerce just yet, although Crumble Cookie might be on the verge of it. Tell us a little bit about what you're doing at Peak right now around spatial and what some of your work focuses on.

Rob: [00:03:15] Yeah. So I am tasked as the Head of Emerging Tech at PeakActivity to really focus on what the intersection looks like when it comes to spatial compute. And the high level term of spatial compute would be anything like augmented, virtual, or extended reality. And if you really wanted to call a spade a spade, you just call it XR. But seeing how that technology plays out and manifests itself in both the B2B and the B2C side when it comes to commerce experiences, which is very, very interesting. The devices themselves, they kind of move both internal and external. So what that looks like for an organization, road mapping, planning, ideation of what the future looks like, and then starting proof of concepts and adoption paths. So that this technology doesn't overwhelm you when it becomes mass market, but starting those proof of concepts now so that the future is impactful.

Phillip: [00:04:12] And a longtime friend of the show, Manish Hirapara, who's the sort of founder and, I would say, the visionary brain behind PeakActivity, and we go back a decade working together on big accounts trying to turn some big, you know, legacy retailers into digital retailers. What was some of your work prior to focusing on things like AI and emergent tech over there at Peak. What were you doing before that?

Rob: [00:04:41] Yeah. So I've been at Peak for a good clip. I think it's coming up on 7 years. The company's been around for 9, a little bit over 9. I think I was employee, like, 22, which is kind of fun now that we're well over, you know, a 120, a 130. My role started out focusing on really the project management and implementation side in the ecommerce space. So looking at different organizations, what pieces of technology were maybe not core, but looking at expanding. So one of the big projects that I got to take on was in this social commerce end of things where I first started out looking at content that was coming from social media accounts, influencers, etc, integrating that onto ecommerce platform and doing some social proofing when, you know, we're talking 6 years ago when social proofing when, you know, we're talking 6 years ago when this was really innovative and new to bring brand content, brand adviser, or influencer content onto platforms. So I started off in that space, and then slowly started to push Manish and be like, "Hey. Listen. We need to do a little bit more emerging tech. We need to do a little bit more emerging tech." Started pushing into the data analytics and machine learning side of predictive analytics and that type of work, and then slowly got started on the spatial compute and augmented reality side about 5 years ago when we started working with Magic Leap and Unity as partners and started kind of that flywheel to get to where we are today.

Phillip: [00:06:10] Sure.

Brian: [00:06:11] Very cool.

Phillip: [00:06:12] Brian, have you put on an Apple Vision Pro? Have you done that?

Brian: [00:06:17] I put one on my face, but I didn't... I had to pull it off real fast.

Phillip: [00:06:20] Where else would you put it? {laughter}

Brian: [00:06:21] No. I mean but, usually what you mean when you say that is, have you really played around with that? I haven't played around with it much.

Phillip: [00:06:28] Yeah.

Brian: [00:06:28] But I think it's funny. We are at the very beginning of all this, and I think back to the start of personal computing when we put these giant altars to the algorithm into whatever space we could cram them into in our houses, and they were, you know, monstrosities that we allowed to grace our living rooms and dining rooms and drawing rooms for the purposes of having access to the Internet.

Phillip: [00:07:08] You remember the dedicated furniture? You remember that?

Rob: [00:07:10] Yeah.

Brian: [00:07:11] Dedicated furniture. Exactly. And so now here we are strapping torture devices to our face.

Phillip: [00:07:18] Oh, Brian. It's Rob's job.

Brian: [00:07:22] No. I know. I know. I know.

Rob: [00:07:23] Only sometimes. Only sometimes.

Brian: [00:07:25] What appears to be a torture device, so that we can access the power of spatial computing. I think a lot of people are a little bit nervous about the form factor of spatial at the moment. Just remember when we started with PCs. Come on. This is the beginning. This is the very, very beginning, and the people that are purchasing this are the ones that are going to be out in front of making sure that this spatial world that we are going to live in at some point, there's going to be active engagement with, yes, I'm going to say it, the metaverse.

Phillip: [00:08:05] Oh, we don't say that. That's the M word, Brian.

Brian: [00:08:07] That's the M word. But, ultimately, simulation for digital twinning. It's going to be a place where we can simulate and experience things that need to happen in our lives. And so I'm bullish about the future of spatial computing. It has a place. It's just right now, we're at the very beginning, and I think people need to remember where they all came from, and what their roots were.

Phillip: [00:08:37] That's true.

Rob: [00:08:39] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:08:39] Rob, in response to that, is the form factor one of those challenges that you're seeing right now for consumer adoption, and does that hold back B2B? Because I feel like business applications with new device hardware, business computing was how we all sort of became acclimated to the power of computing in our everyday lives. So what's your outlook here?

Rob: [00:09:02] Yeah. So on the direct to consumer aspect of things, I think we're a little ways away from that mass tipping point adoption when it comes to form factor. Let's spade to spade. When I put an Apple Vision Pro on my face and it's 700, 800 grams, that's a lot to wear on your face.

Brian: [00:09:22] Pounds? Did you say pounds? {laughter}

Rob: [00:09:23] No. Not pounds. Not pounds. Grams. Only grams. {laughter} So when I put that on my face, right, it's just naturally that that's not something we're used to when your average pair of sunglasses is 90 to 125, give or take. It's super, super light. And that is the entrance of the Ray Ban glasses that Meta has worked on and published and launched. That's the form factor everyone is aligning to as the future. However, we've seen leaders that have gone beyond that form factor and created contact lenses with heads up displays in them.

Phillip: [00:10:01] Wow, yeah.

Rob: [00:10:01] Those are real and published and in the market and had to take pivots because if you have a contact lens, you don't have any wires, you don't have a battery, and you're pumping 5G and Bluetooth through your face to power this device, which is, you know, a little sketchy according to the FDA.

Brian: [00:10:15] {laughter}

Rob: [00:10:17] So those types of things, right, are going to happen eventually. But as you said, right, [00:10:22] if you look at calculators, you had a massive computer that was the size of a room for a calculator. You had, you know, the evolution of the TI83, and now you have a calculator on your phone. You're going to see the same progression. We're at the biggest and worst the devices will ever be. It'll only get smaller, better, faster, which will increase adoption. [00:10:43] Now that timeline varies.

Brian: [00:10:46] Yeah. I mean, imagine quantum computer that's localized to your contact lens. There you go. That's the ultimate. That's where we're headed. I know you guys... I mean, I'm sure everyone's sitting on here like, "Oh, Brian. You're crazy."

Phillip: [00:11:00] Brian, you woke up on the future side of the bed today. I love this.

Brian: [00:11:03] I did. I did.

Phillip: [00:11:03] We should do these recordings so much earlier in the day.

Brian: [00:11:06] This is what happens when I've not had a single sip of coffee yet. Well, actually, that's not true. I've had 5 sips of coffee.

Rob: [00:11:14] Phillip, to your point on the business to business side. There are specific industries and verticals when it comes to the adoption of head mounted displays that will accelerate. So if I'm designing a physical product, 1,000% head mounted display is the greatest thing underneath the sun. If I'm repairing a thing and I have a team somewhere else that needs to see what I'm doing, 1,000% head mounted display is a fantastic use case. Working at a desk to do pivot tables in Excel on an Apple Vision Pro, probably not massively beneficial that you have a headset and not just two displays. Right? So I think that there are areas of adoption. It's the same thing with the consumer side. It is called an Apple Vision Pro. If you look at the naming convention, it's the same thing as the iPhone Pro Max. That's the device for your highest level. You're going to probably see an Apple Vision device, which will be smaller in form factor, less compute power, a little bit less heavy, etc, with a smaller price tag. That's probably the direction that we're going to go in the evolution of the product line. So, yeah, the B2B side's going to outpace just because it's a commercial ready device that has a higher price tag. But the mere fact that this is in the market for consumers that straddles the line between augmented and virtual reality is a nice thing that we see for the longevity of the device and the technology.

Phillip: [00:12:39] Have we seen examples where new types of digital experience design begins to inform the way we built the old technology of experience design? For instance, I'm thinking about the way that mobile computing and responsive web design actually impacted the way that we do all information architecture on websites. Now that took a little bit of time for that to sort of trickle down back to the legacy form factor. Is there a possibility that we're going to see the same thing happen with these XR experiences that start to reinform web and mobile experiences?

Rob: [00:13:17] Yeah. A 100%. So we're seeing this duality happen. Right now, if we look at the Apple Vision Pro experiences, and we can talk about this later, but everything is like a box that's floating in space. Right? Which is just a replication of the web now in augmented reality where I'm like, "Oh, cool. I got many boxes in space." And just, like, add many screens in space. But what we're starting to see on the website is two different pieces of technology. First one, Unity as a core platform allows you to publish experiences that go to Web, which are really, really interesting, but also Three.js, which is a 3D JavaScript library that can be used for design on the Web, those experiences, as we see them continuously evolve, they're much more focused on pushing 3D and 3D format and experiences into, I'm going to say use the commerce based space, the commerce space so that you have now much deeper interactivity. Interactive selling on Web, we are seeing things in 3 dimensions. And we see other pieces of technology like Shopify having in their app, you can take a bunch of photos of your homemade product and upload it, and now you have a 3D model of it. Right? Those pieces of tech are going to start influencing design elements, allowing the browser to be a gateway and the bridge point between an Apple Vision Pro or a headset and what you would traditionally see on mobile. But those two pieces of tech are starting to pace and push what people want on an interactive experience on Web that will influence, you know, head mounted displays, but also change your standard information architecture, mobile design, etc.

Brian: [00:15:01] Yeah. I think you're dead on. And you've mentioned what I think or at least you started to refer to digital twinning, the idea of these different potential models that will be within your experiences. And I really believe that that's where some of this is headed. As you look at the connection point between why you would actually use something like this and the way that we're using it right now, simulation moments are going to be the compelling point for a lot of these experiences. And that's where I think you're dead on about the interface. And we always, Phillip said this before on the podcast, we always use existing form factors to try and sort of experience new form factors, and we'll use the language and the different browsers. Your browser means a window right now. We need those things in order to help us understand where we're going to be at some point. So Rob, I think the question for you that I have is, what is the ultimate end aim of spatial computing as far as where we'll end at with the form factor in the next 5 years? Is it just going to be continued browser windows that we float around, or are we going to end up somewhere else?

Rob: [00:16:41] Bored, I hope not. Right? Let's just call spade a spade. Right? The reason we see a ton of just, like, browser Windows floating in space on the Apple Vision Pros is because you can take your iPad app, click two buttons, and redeploy to AVP. Apple Vision Pro, and that's why you're seeing a bunch of floating boxes. That's the real truth. That's why a bunch of the apps look like that. It's fair points. The digital twinning aspect has to extend beyond just hard products. Right now, hard product and spaces are very easy to digital train or recreate in a 3D model. Realistically, digital twin, a digital replication of something in the physical space. So that's either a couch or Notre Dame or Washington DC. So [00:17:21] having that digital twin is really a massive form factor for these experiences because having a 360 degree experience around something is really where we are going when it comes to any experience, but specifically the commerce space. [00:17:40] So one of the biggest commerce shopping items is always clothing. That is one of the things that we continuously will go into store for because we want to see what it looks like on us versus on a 3D model, which is how it's being represented now. That's great. We, in theory, can put an Apple Vision Pro on, stand in front of a mirror, and use a digital twin of a shirt so that it's sized appropriately. And we get the size and dimensions that we want. I think that that's our bridge point is using a head mounted display to look at things on ourselves and then moving into, "Oh, this is my physical digital twin of myself because I took my Apple Vision Pro, stuck it on the table, and rotated around at 360 degrees. And now I'm in the experience just like we did for our eyes, so we can blink and people can see our faces." That digital twin of person, that replication of self will be a big part of it. And then it's getting to a production readiness where you can replicate soft goods like clothing that has a very high turnover at a very cost efficient way so you can continue the cycle of, you know, immersive commerce, if you will. Those digital twinings are really where things are going. When you think about experience now, it's I've replicated myself. I've replicated the products. I allow very quick and simple blink to pay, right, or iris scan to play, which is coming. Right? I can just look into a specific box, and then I get the notification now I've bought whatever it is. We're already at point when it comes to replication of hard goods and digital twins. It's the soft goods that we need to see evolve faster.

Brian: [00:20:07] Back to your point about B2B versus consumer, Phillip. My father-in-law is an engineer, and they've been using digital twinning in engineering for a while now. And the beautiful thing about it is it sped up test times and production you know, test times for the models they want to run significantly. Significantly. And so like you said, hard goods makes a lot of sense. I think it's going to be necessary though because going around in a digital twin of your home is a lot more easy to process than, I was just on a panel in Denver this past week. And I was on a panel with someone from Victoria's Secret, and we actually talked about this very topic. Someone modeling underwear is a lot harder for them to stomach in a... {laughter}

Phillip: [00:21:05] {snicker} Sorry.

Brian: [00:21:06] In a digital twin environment.

Phillip: [00:21:09] Sure.

Brian: [00:21:09] Seeing yourself in an intimate way like that, talk about the narcissist effect that we've seen with Zoom, like, looking at yourself as a 3D model is going to create a whole new level of narcissistic tendencies that are scary to people. I think that that's another adoption point that we're going to have to get over over time.

Phillip: [00:21:37] I'd like to take this idea to okay, so let's kind of go one click deeper, if you will, beyond the digital twin. So, Rob, these seem like obvious experiences, probably premium experiences, things that we have long consideration times in purchase, things that are, you know, maybe professional services aligned, like interior design or consultative designing, I don't know, a custom kitchen. Those things seem to make tons of sense for me. If those experiences start to reinform how we view websites, for instance, maybe that hints as to why Shopify and others are making such, what look like future proofing investments in camera scanning technology, NERF or neural radiance field technology. The idea that I might want to reach into a website and manipulate imagery or look at photography in a little bit of a different way. Is that the next phase, or is there something intermediary between those two steps?

Rob: [00:22:45] Yeah. So this is how I kind of see the flow of this is right now, we are in spatial compute. We're programmed as a user to take something from a digital experience and bring it into our space, e.g. IKEA. I want to take and see what this couch looks in my space. The next evolution of that is I want to take my space and bring it to a design experience, for example. I want to take my kitchen and put it into Lowe's Kitchen Designer on Web bcause that's the mass adoption tool. I think that that's it. And then it becomes, after that is successful and validated through digital means, then it becomes, now I want to combine my spaces in this digital replication. Right? So that's the I have Apple Vision 3.0 on my face. I flip up. I want to swipe and see what my cabinet color changes are. And then it's my real kitchen. I'm just swiping through different colors, and then I'm going to change my handles. Oh, and actually, I want to take this out and move my fridge over. Boom. That's where I think the evolutionary path is. Right now, we're taking from brands. We have to give our spaces to experiences. And then it's going to be the combination of those two. And I think that goes across pretty much everything. Right now, we're doing virtual try on of makeup. Eventually, I'm going to bring a digital twin of my face to l' or Sephora. And then it's going to be, [00:24:08] how do I combine those two into a live experience using a magic mirror or a head mounted display or a personal device that kind of enhances that experience? So that's where I see the evolutionary path. And I think all of those are possible, and that's the leading indicator is you're starting to see organizations bring physical spaces into digital experiences. [00:24:31]

Brian: [00:24:31] So your home is going to be the ecommerce store of the future, actually.

Rob: [00:24:35] Without a doubt.

Brian: [00:24:36] Yeah. So this is the most terrifying part. Imagine Lammers' law applied to this, Phillip.

Phillip: [00:24:45] Well, yeah. We're almost there, actually.

Brian: [00:24:48] Yep.

Phillip: [00:24:48] I was looking around my house the other day, and there are so many advertising services that I already have in my house. My television when it goes to sleep, there's advertising running on it. My Alexa Vision, the screen one, it has advertising running on it. Of course, our home could be a new surface for advertising ad units. My question here... Okay. So I love this idea. Okay. There's this evolution of what we consider to be digital experiences, and they can be there's this inversion that we're on the precipice of rather than us going to digital experiences, digital experiences are more informed by the things and in the spaces that we already inhabit. If spatial is this next opportunity, there are a lot of tools that have to get us to there. So for instance, you know, a lot of millennials spend a lot of time on Zillow, thinking about homes, shopping for homes. It's a form of entertainment. And within the last 15 years, we've now seen property tech has allowed us to have pretty much a picture of almost every single home that you could possibly want between Google Maps and Zillow. You can see the inside or the outside of pretty much every home that you would want to. The next leap forward being, well, can AI help us get to the next phase where it doesn't require true interior scans of everything? How much of this can be intuitive in a content creation perspective that helps create that next level of experience? And is AI sort of here just in time to help us get there?

Rob: [00:26:36] Yeah. Just in time is a scary term. But it may be a little bit earlier than we expected. So using the home buying experience example, the data already exists for 80 percent of the homes probably in the US right now, realistically. It's just out there. You can take your home off Google Maps on the outside if you so desire to. You literally just submit a single thing. But they still have the satellite view. So what does that really do? So even if we have that satellite view and we just have the facts that this is a 3/2, artificial intelligence can roughly layout based on the satellite view of that house what the floor plan is.

Phillip: [00:27:19] Yeah.

Rob: [00:27:19] And once we have that floor plan, you can go to right now, you can go into an AI design tool and start mocking up a space or upload your own space and start redesigning it through very, very baseline prompting.

Phillip: [00:27:31] Sure.

Rob: [00:27:32] I think artificial intelligence overall is only going to accelerate the adoption curve of different pieces of experience within the commerce area. And it comes from, first off, the design style. Hey. Can I design this space? Can I reimagine what this space looks like? Then it becomes, you have my space. What's the best thing for this? And then it's fully do this for me without any input from my side knowing I bought one thing from one place. I think that that accelerates too when we get to AI-assisted or AI agents that are digital twins of the best sales associate for a specific brand have a massive understanding of product inventory, what's available, and create conversational commerce experiences. And that's where things start to just... We are in the hockey curve, very, very high level, and there's no stopping that type of experience.

Phillip: [00:28:26] Isn't there a human intuition too, think about the way that you might do Internet sleuthing of your own to figure out what the layout of a home might be? It's very likely, at least here in Florida, it's very likely there's another home built by the same home builder that has a very similar footprint that hasn't been removed from Google Maps that you could infer. And think about the inferences you can make based on information that your neighbors haven't opted out of. So there's an interesting effect where looking at other people's behavior gives you a little bit of a sense of, statistically, some assurance that you can make an educated guess around what people like this, homes like this, people that own cars like this, you know, behaviors and buying behaviors that create a new opportunity of all kinds of things. It's more trust building. Right? More cohort analysis telling you, "Oh, people that own this home typically drive this car." There's a new level of, I don't know if that's advertising or if it's just another tool of looking for more assurances in the way that people buy and belong. That seems like maybe spatial helps us, you know, is an opportunity for us to get there, but that seems like an obvious leap to the next level of customer experience design.

Rob: [00:29:49] Yeah. Yeah. [00:29:49] The amount of data that we throw off in our digital footprints is exceptionally high. That right now is processed by very... Well, some process it by hand using humans. Some process it using machine learning. But when you start plugging in artificial intelligence to that, it now gives a massive pool of data. [00:30:12] A very good example of this would be, "Well, I work in this job. I'm looking for a house in this area, but I'd be open to other areas." If you gave that information to AI, and I'm based in South Florida, it may say, "Hey. Do you want to look at this house in Tennessee because it has a similar tax bracket and there's a similar company with an open job requisition that you actually fit really well because we know your LinkedIn profile?" And you can also have a very similar layout to the one that you searched for in South Florida that's 550K, but it's 200 in Tennessee. That's all very possible as of today.

Brian: [00:32:47] Who's going to aggregate this though? I mean, this is the thing. I talked many years ago about Walmart sort of being the everything subscription. They have that opportunity to help people live lives within the tiers that fit their lifestyle and actually could be really healthy, sort of privatized, almost privatized socialism at a certain level. {laughter} People can go and buy a lifestyle that fits exactly their means, and there are indicators to help them never exceed the life that they're actively living and then recommendations to how to improve that and so and so on and so forth.

Phillip: [00:33:27] Brian, hater of free will. Go on. Sorry.

Brian: [00:33:29] No. No. No. Pro free will, there's a lot of opportunity for free will within the bounds of the system.

Phillip: [00:33:38] {cackle}

Brian: [00:33:39] Love this. So how do we get... Walmart's not implemented this, obviously, even though I told them to 5, 6 years ago. The question I have is how are we going to get to a point where we have this overarching layer of shared data that's going to pass all of these things back and forth to each other and provide us with all these reasons to make a move from Florida to Nashville and have a better life.

Rob: [00:34:16] Okay. So you want the the glass half full or half empty?

Brian: [00:34:20] Give me both. Give me both, Rob.

Rob: [00:34:22] The half full answer is that you as an individual creator of data within the digital ecosystem would have the proprietary ownership of your footprint and what you license out to others so that it could be aggregated and you can have a hyper fine tuned personal assistant to your life that may be a digital representation of yourself and navigates the ecosystem of your wants and desires. The hyper not half full end of things is you will have a multinational conglomerate of corporations that allow API calls between their different data repositories so that you are fed why you need to go to a specific location and purchase a home to increase the overall economy and work the warehouse shift to make sure the robots pick and pack the right things in XYZ warehouse. But that's the not great end of things is that all this data and all this information is very easily manipulated and very easily influential which we've already seen extrapolated across the political spectrum going into election year.

Phillip: [00:35:32] You're making such an interesting point, the both of you. I think that while hyperindividualist societies maybe would push back against anything of that sort, that doesn't mean that there aren't collectivist societies and cultures that would buy into something like that. I think there are cultures on planet Earth right now that have a more collectivist attitude around how we build together and create mutual value together, and we participate in a society together, and the individual is less important. And so while the future of commerce in the west and specifically the United States may choose to do something in a much more individualistic sense, that doesn't mean that there aren't expressions of commerce somewhere on planet Earth where it has a much more collectivist sense, and they will give over more control to algorithms that optimize for GDP or optimize for productivity. And those are things that may be, I don't know if you ever listen to the All-In podcast, but there's been a lot of conversation from David Friedberg and some others, Ray Dalio around, you know, decline of superpowers and what helps usher in a new era of a new global superpower, the rise of India... There's a lot there. Right? So when we look at things, we have to especially around the future of commerce, it's not just through an American centric, or Eurocentric lens. We have to think about it from a lot of different angles.

Rob: [00:37:06] Completely agree. Realistically, macroeconomics of the individual location and the governing body of that location traditionally guide some portion of the path when it comes to commerce. And that could go from GDPR to CCP in California to all the way through the AI regulations that you're seeing in the EU. That is a massive understanding of what that layer looks like is going to directly affect what the organization can and can't do, which is directly going to affect what the customer can and can't do. And, really, that power dynamic between customer and the macro levels above it, how that plays out is to be determined. But it is something that will affect the overall journey of tech and commerce and the individual customer experience.

Brian: [00:37:53] Let's take an American-centric point of view here for a second because, I think that we're going to land somewhere in between your two viewpoints, Rob, which is the glass half full, glass half empty. It's almost always in America, like you said, Phillip, because we like our individual sense of freedom, there are going to be people that figure out how to navigate and live in the half glass full world that you've brought up, Rob, and there's going to be a bunch of people that just live right underneath the glass half empty. And there are going to be a lot of people that live somewhere in between because it takes so much work to manage the glass half full view that they're going to be half above and half below, and it's just going to be one big mess going forward. That's not to say there are not going to be a lot of benefits or a lot of ways to navigate through that mess because there are going to be. But I think it's going to be somewhere in between.

Phillip: [00:38:52] Speaking of mess, let's talk about the current state of commerce spatial apps. Let's talk a little bit, Rob, you have a Apple Vision Pro?

Rob: [00:39:00] I do. I do.

Phillip: [00:39:01] Let's talk about some of the individual commerce experiences, and let's take a look at each one of them. And we can just the top four for me are J. Crew, Alo Yoga, which basically seemed to be built on the same experience platform. There's Lowe's and Crumbl Cookie. And I thought just at a high level, what are these apps doing or proving? What can they do? What can't they do? And why is this handful of brands and retailers as the first set that are experimenting with commerce?

Rob: [00:39:36] Yeah. So realistically, you want to see industry leaders hop into a platform and start adopting and utilizing and building experiences that others will replicate or see as an option as a path forward for their own brand. So you always look at the top down. I think Gucci is going to come out with an experience soon, and all these other organizations are going to come out. When you look at the J. Crew experience or these names overall like J. Crew, you want them to be creating something that's novel, unique, but is redeployable, reusable, and isn't just a finite endpoint in the commerce experience. Which, unfortunately, I think a lot falls short no matter who's on that list that we kind of talk about. J Crew, what their experience looks like... I have a semi-immersive experience. It's a virtual world. I have 3D models of products. I still have that floating box of product recommendations that I can click on. It's going to change what's on that 3D model. I think it's a good start. At least it's not a flat screen. There are some 3D elements. But I think when you look at what could happen in the fashion space, I think it's replicating what the shopping experience is, and there's much more brand storytelling that should happen when it comes to different items, which I think is that gap that we're experiencing right now. We got some 3D. We got some flat 2 step 2D things that are in the space, but we're missing the narrative. We're missing that experience. We should be looking at recreating pop up style experiences in the physical space in Apple Vision Pro to really forward the brand narrative versus, "Hey. Here's a 3D model of a mannequin." "Hey. Click on this pair of pants. What do you think?" It feels very novel and of low level of novelty at best, when it comes to those.

Phillip: [00:41:28] Yeah. And for whatever it's worth, absolutely unusable on airplane Wi Fi. These are, like, heavy experiences that require a lot of bandwidth. And in that way, they sort of function as mock ups or demos more than anything else. Have you bought anything?

Rob: [00:41:53] Not scalable, not full-fledged commerce-style experiences as well. Not a single experience has led me to purchase anything. Thought about it, gone through the checkout path, but what happens in most experiences, we're just going to talk about most, I click shop now or interact with shop now, pops open a Safari web browser.

Phillip: [00:42:11] That's right.

Rob: [00:42:12] Right? That is the antithesis of pay with my iris that we talked about earlier where it just has my Apple credit card on there. And I look at the little box and it's in my door in 2 to 4 hours. Right?

Phillip: [00:42:25] Totally.

Rob: [00:42:26] The antithesis of that.

Brian: [00:42:27] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:42:28] Yeah. There's still a lot of technology that's going to get rolled into this. It's going to take a minute. I mean, we're just finally in the real world, we're finally starting to get pay with biometrics in stores. That seems like a first step to this before we get anywhere else.

Rob: [00:42:46] Yeah. You need to have a unique experience. I think, on our list, Phillip, is like Crumbl Cookie. Unique experience. Look at a cookie. Design a cookie. Understand what the ingredients are, flip, change, rearrange. But unless I can check out and have that cookie in a near real time experience, whatever that tape delay is, 20 minutes for Uber Eats, 35 minutes, where you just started with the call with Nothing Bundt Cake. If you were designing Nothing Bundt Cakes in 360 degrees, picking your icing, picking the type of packaging you want, you wanted a personalized message and it was at your door at 20 minutes? Okay. Cool. Now we have something novel. But if I'm just swiping through a PDP page and adding stuff to a cart and then going on to Safari and not being able to autofill my address and that type of stuff, and have to virtually type it in, thumbs down. Pass, get me out of this immediately.

Brian: [00:43:36] Also, let's talk for a minute about who the Apple Vision Pro purchaser is as a customer and the experiences that we've just mentioned. J. Crew, Alo Yoga, Crumbl Cookie.

Phillip: [00:43:49] Alo.

Brian: [00:43:51] Alo. Yeah. I think  [00:43:55]it seems like the people that went to go build the first experiences maybe weren't perfectly aligned with the purchaser of the Apple Vision Pro. I feel like there's a huge opportunity. Phillip and I talked about this in a prior podcast. The Apple Vision Pro is one of the greatest signifiers of a type of buyer that has existed in the past 10 years. [00:44:19]

Rob: [00:44:22] You couldn't talk more about a segmented audience type.

Brian: [00:44:24] Exactly. Exactly.

Rob: [00:44:26] Gucci should be there. Formula 1 should be there.

Phillip: [00:44:28] Totally.

Rob: [00:44:28] It should be your luxury. Realistically, these devices should be breaching me in the in-store experience too. Right? If I have a hyper customized jewelry shop and I could put them in an Apple Vision Pro instead of having them hold things and still maintain a conversation, that luxury experience is untapped.

Brian: [00:44:47] Let's be honest. It's a weird mix of a nerd in luxury. You have to have enough money to buy it and enough nerd in you to buy it. And then so if you combine...

Phillip: [00:44:57] And not enough brains to have bought it, I say to myself. {laughter}

Brian: [00:45:03] {laughter} So that means you're inclined to make purchases that you may or may not need. Where is the souped up gaming computer with a digital twin in this that you can go build yourself, in the machine? I feel like there's a huge opportunity for a certain type of yeah.

Rob: [00:45:22] Lowe's... 100%. Their experience is fantastic. I love being able to design my cabinets in this virtual space. Very, very cool. Take them out, 3D models. Great. No. I'm sorry. Let's be smart, and let's do a smart home experience on your Apple Vision Pro. Show me all the different products I could get that could be connected to my Apple Vision Pro. Upsell me on solutions and services. And then if you really want to be nefarious, Lowe's, capture all the home data and then retarget me for different things that need to be upgraded in my house. Whether it's countertops or cabinets or or rugs or whatever, that smart home experience is a huge... That could have been really, really impressive. I map the space. I understand what's in the space. I create recommendations on smart homes. I tell you what can be tied to your Apple Vision Pro and what can be tied to your phone. So when you walk into your home, pop on my Apple Vision Pro, I have a very unique experience that is unlike any other home experience and aligns to a brand's value, which is furthering adoption of, you know, IoT-enabled devices.

Brian: [00:46:28] Totally.

Phillip: [00:46:29] Just as a matter of closure, we're going to have to have you back, Rob. There's so much to talk about. When looking at early data back from who actually bought an Apple Vision Pro and some of the consumer surveys that went out around the launch and release of it, women actually poled as more favorable to buying a device of this nature. And according to The Verge, a 2021 report showed that Beat Saber users and other entrenched apps in the meta ecosystem that had already developed very, very large consumer followings actually skewed heavily towards women. 60% of whom were over the age of 40. And so I think what you know, when you look at Alo Yoga, for instance, or e.l.f. Cosmetics, Crumbl Cookie, [00:47:21] there might be a skew here that we just haven't picked up on yet where there might be an opportunity to reach a more affluent, you know, female crowd that we just haven't tapped into yet because we tend to think of tech adopters and early adopters as being older affluent males. So there's maybe also a little bias in the way that we think about how these things are being built, [00:47:45] and we just because generally, the retailers that are building right now, I think Gucci would do well because I think Gucci's primary audience is older affluent women. So there might be a really interesting insight there that we just haven't seen take hold yet.

Rob: [00:48:03] I completely agree. If you look at retail overall, cosmetics has been a driving adopter for emerging tech for the last decade.

Phillip: [00:48:12] Yeah.

Rob: [00:48:12] First AR experiences, the first AI experiences, the first virtual try on, the first commerce enabled experience. Decoupling the monolith. Really all happens in the cosmetic space. So the fact that there is the adoption there and the continued adoption, it's great to see that there's been a tech enablement in that space, which is a primarily female buyer. That enabling itself or manifesting itself and head mounted displays, love that because I think it's a great aspect to tie into.

Phillip: [00:48:42] Yeah. Rob, brilliant. Thank you so much. Where can people find more from you?

Rob: [00:48:48] Yeah. LinkedIn, number 1, the content because I'm a B2B kind of guy. But on all the socials, on everything. And is the easiest place to find me,

Phillip: [00:49:01] Great. Love it. Love the work you're doing at Peak, and thanks so much for taking the time. And thank you so much for listening to this episode of Future Commerce. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties at You get ad free episodes at where it's your gateway to exclusive invites to events, discount on print and merch, and you'll be the first in the door, VIP at our June 11th event at MoMA coming up. It's VISIONS New York City, June 11th. Be there, and you can find out more about that at Thank you so much. Commerce is culture. And thank you for listening to this episode of Future Commerce.

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