Seminar: Interactive Prototypes for the Retail of the Future

The seminar takes place at the Innovative Retail Laboratory (IRL), Neumarkt 15, 66117 Saarbrücken:

Daten von OpenStreetMap - Veröffentlicht unter ODbL

In this seminar, we will explore how artificial intelligence (AI) and interactive technologies in the area of Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) can augment offline shopping experiences in retail stores. During the course of the summer semester you will develop a concept and implement a working prototype that can be showcased to potential users (potential customers as well as employees/management of a retail store).

After you are admitted to this seminar, you will be matched with two to four other students (depending on the overall number of students that want to attend this seminar) and your group gets assigned to one of the topics listed below. You will be able to express your preferences (for group members and topics) after the seminar's kickoff.



  • The Virtual Reality Product Shelf

    In today’s retail, customization of products has become centrally important. For many products, such as for example shoes, cars, electronic devices, etc., customers can choose from a huge variety of different combinations of colors, parts, or features. For many of these product types, customers still prefer going to a physical store to be able to talk to sales experts and to browse the physical products in real-life. In contrast to online shops, however, physical stores have a crucial limitation when it comes to customizable products: due to the great number of possible options, physical retail stores cannot hold every possible combination of product features on display. Yet, customers expect to be able to so see their preferred product configuration before they commit to buying.

    This project aims to solve this problem using the power of virtual reality (VR). Specifically, the goal of this project is to create a proof-of-concept system that transforms a physical product shelf (e.g., a shelf that displays several different shoe models, or other customizable products) into a “Virtual Reality Product Shelf”. When standing in front of the shelf, customers will put on a VR head-mounted display (e.g., the Meta Quest 2) and pick up the product of their choice from the shelf. Customers can then attach a small physical module (which is to be developed as part of this project) to the product that tracks the product’s orientation in space. Once attached, users will be immersed into a virtual shopping environment in which they can see the product they have picked up as a virtual model. Here they can turn and inspect the virtual product by rotating the physical product with their hands. Using hand gestures inside VR, users should then be able to customize the virtual product (e.g., changing the color, size, or other features of the product). By this, the “Virtual Reality Product Shelf” empowers physical stores to present many different product configurations to customers in an interactive and immersive way while only holding a single physical configuration on display.

  • The Multitouch Storytelling Table 

    In the modern retail landscape, the experience of shopping has transcended mere transactions to become more about customer engagement and interaction. As part of this evolution, there's a growing need for retail spaces to provide unique, memorable experiences that both educate and entertain customers.

    This project introduces an innovative solution to this challenge: The Multitouch Storytelling Table. The essence of this project is to create an interactive table that integrates conversational AI, such as ChatGPT, to engage customers in a novel way. When products are placed on the table, it recognizes them and for example initiates a dialogue with the customer, weaving stories, jokes, or sharing intriguing facts about the products. For instance, placing a bottle of wine and a type of cheese on the table could prompt the AI to recount the history of the wine, suggest a perfect cheese pairing, or tell an amusing anecdote about wine tasting. On the technical side, recognition of products will be realized through provided 2D codes.
    By combining the tactile experience of handling physical products with the enriching interaction provided by conversational AI, the Multitouch Storytelling Table offers a bridge between the digital and physical retail worlds. It enables stores to deliver a more immersive, informative, and enjoyable shopping experience, thereby deepening customer engagement and potentially increasing sales. This project represents a step towards the future of retail, where technology enhances the human aspect of shopping, making it more personal, interactive, and memorable.

  • Interactive Carrera Race Track 

    Engaging customers outside of a shop is crucial for attracting foot traffic and creating an interactive experience that draws people into the store. Traditional methods of advertising and marketing often fail to capture the attention of passersby in today's fast-paced world. Hence, innovative approaches are necessary to pique curiosity and generate interest.

    One such method is utilizing interactive technologies like a Carrera Race Track that can be controlled by potential customers outside the store via their own smartphones. At its current state, the Carrera Race Track allows players to control the speed of the cars using their smartphones. By scanning a QR code, players gain access to the track's controls, enabling them to race against each other from outside the shop. While this functionality serves as a basic introduction to the interactive experience, there is ample opportunity to enhance the game's features and elevate the overall engagement. During the seminar, you will collaborate in a group to further develop the Carrera Race Track experience. You will explore new game elements and technical implementations to enrich the gameplay and captivate the audience. Some potential areas for enhancement include:

    • Introduce barriers and obstacles on the track to challenge players and add excitement to the race.
    • Implement a points system to incentivize players and add a competitive element to the game.
    • Introduce power-ups and boosts that players can collect during the race to gain temporary advantages over their opponents.

    To visualize these features, it will be necessary to augment the race track by either AR through the phone, a projection, or other ideas you might come up.


Tasks to complete during the seminar

Every group is required to do the following tasks for their assigned area/topic:

  • Concept creation: Think about a realization concept for your assigned area/topic and document it properly as hand-in.
  • Prototyping: Come up with a solution for your concept idea and create a working prototype for it. The idea is that the prototypes can be showcased to interested customers/employees. Prototype designs should also take care how they could be used (in theory) in-the-wild.

Every group is assigned one advisor for discussing the different tasks. 


Hand-ins during the seminar

The following hand-ins / presentations need to be done:

  • Hand-in of the concept [graded] 
  • Mid-project presentation of the prototype [not graded, but compulsory to pass the seminar]
  • Final Presentation of the prototype [graded]
  • Hand-in of the (documented) prototype as well as a description why the prototype is able to solve the task that your group wanted to target [graded].


Important dates

All meetings must be attended by all group members (exceptions require an official document, e.g. a doctor’s certificate), otherwise, you won't pass the seminar.

 24.04.2024 Kickoff meeting - Click here for slides!
 25.04.2024 Group assignment
 03.05.2024 Concept Hand-in
 12.06.2024 Mid-project presentation meeting
 24.07.2024 Final presentation meeting
 31.07.2024 Hand-in of documentation material, source code, etc.

We will offer a weekly opportunity to work directly in the IRL, typically on Wednesday  - see the Kickoff Slides for exemptions. Additional work opportunities can be scheduled individually.

All hand-ins will be graded on the basis of what is available at 23.59 German time on the respective closing date.
All meetings will take place on the respective dates, 10am-12pm (s.t.).



Frederic Kerber, Felix Kosmalla, Dr. André Zenner, Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger

Please use the following address to reach all instructors: