In March 2013, eBay announced that it would be working on app development for Google Glass. The idea was to use the Android-powered, head-mounted wearable gadget to help consumers shop online and offline without needing to use a smartphone.
In June 2010, the online-market giant had bought RedLaser, a popular bar-code-scanning app for the iPhone that was developed by a company named Occipital. EBay had made clear its intentions back then to use the app’s scanning technology for mobile shopping.
Last month, eBay launched a Google Glass-optimized version of the RedLaser app. The app, which is activated on the wearable device through voice and image recognition, enables users to search for products online as well as locally. Using the well-known “OK Glass” voice command, users can quickly check prices of products by scanning bar codes. Users can also use the voice command “OK Glass, find a product” to search for products by name and get directions to the brick-and-mortar store where the product would be available. The location-based feature has been made possible by eBay’s past acquisition of Milo, a shopping startup company.
Research conducted by Ebay in Q2 2014 reveals that 59% of customers shop across multiple screens. With a focus on image recognition, wearables such as Google Glass can go in the direction of contactless payments. Other Google Glass apps provide commerce-oriented features. One is Eaze, which simply lets the Glass user nod his head in order to complete the transaction.
Although the use of Google Glass for commerce might still be a nascent concept, having a commerce giant such as eBay look into it is a clear signal that we will see more innovative methods for e-commerce transactions. Even other wearables will soon become part of how commerce occurs in the near future.
The use of such cutting-edge technology has some practical business purposes. “What we found with mobile is that any time you reduced friction you increased transactions,” said Steve Yankovich, a vice president at eBay. “This is where wearables, which are even more naturally on your person than a smartphone, come into play. Every time a wearable shows up, we have to look at it, even if it’s something that is new and may not fly as a mass-market product. You don’t even know whether this will be a tool for commerce, but we have to try.”
As of now, there is no direct payment feature in the RedLaser Glass app. But the company might look into developing extensions for the app. For example, BestBuy works with eBay to create special in-store experiences for the RedLaser stand-alone phone app. This could be further extended to the Glass app as well. Eventually, payments is one direction where new apps for wearables will eventually go, and big brands such as eBay will surely be spearheading such innovations.