A company like eBay that is typically dependent on user-generated products and services is considerably more adaptable to changing markets and trends than most retail outlets. However it is still wise to keep their finger on the pulse of their customers’ wants and needs. Not only will it allow them to put new systems and policies in place early, before any issues arise, but they can also work with their sellers and show them what type of products that their customers want. And there is no better way to gauge public interest in emerging technology than by letting the public get their hands on some of it so they can see how it really works.
So eBay Australia decided to throw a technology party this weekend at Darling Harbour in Sydney for 3,000 people. Their two-day Innovation Lab will set up interactive displays of some of the most cutting edge technology available, including virtual reality, holographic projection systems, 360 video and–of course–several 3D printers. The aim of eBay’s consumer research project is to watch the public interact with the technology and see which of the new products lives up to the hype, and which will be a flash in the pan. The Lab’s visitors will be closely monitored and their interest will be gauged using gaze monitoring, dwell time and a series of mobile questionnaires.
EBay believes that they are the single largest technology-based community in Australia, and they have some convincing numbers to back that claim up. Of the eight million purchases made on eBay Australia in the last year, half of them were technology products of some kind. Additionally, 400,000 members of eBay’s seller community are tech sellers, and their user base made a whopping 110 million searches for tech in the last year. A lot of those searches were for brand new, or yet to be released products. eBay’s senior director of marketing and retail innovation Steve Brennen mentioned the huge response to the Fitbit fitness tracker, pointing out that searches for the activity tracker blew up 50,000% virtually overnight.
“There’s an insatiable appetite for technology in Australia. We’re early adopters and people are searching not only for tech that’s available in the market but things that aren’t even here yet. Some of this tech is really hard to understand until you see it and get your hands on it so we thought we’d do an activation to find out what people actually think of it, do they think it will be a game changer and what role it might play in their lives,” explained Brennen.
The goal is to help eBay and their sellers find out what products will sell and what products are all hype and will probably be ignored. Some of the hig-tech products that will be on display at the eBay Innovation Lab will include several robotic products. Visitors will meet WowWee MIP, a self-balancing gesture controlled robot, a robotics-construction system from MOSS Modrobotics and Double Robotics portable video conferencing system. They’ll also be able to ride a self-balancing skateboard, watch a 3D hologram projection system called Holho and Bublcam, a spherical camera that can capture 360 photos and videos.
Representing the 3D printing industry will be several models of full body 3D scanners and 3D printers, not to mention the Samsung Gear VR and lots of 3Doodler 3D printer pens.
“In 2013, 3D TVs were predicted to take-over the home viewing experience but consumers swiftly turned their back on the much hyped tech. There are a number of questions left to be answered around new technology – ‘will we embrace drones as pets? Will 3D printing take personalisation to an unrecognisable level?’ We will be measuring what people think and feel around the technology earmarked to enter Australians’ lives in the coming years in order to provide insights and analysis into what Australians can really expect from the future,” explained futurist Chris Riddell who is helping eBay analyse the data collected.
Brennen said that the results of the Lab will help eBay decide what changes to make to their website infrastructure, selling and buying policies and possibly adding new features to the website. Once all of the data is collected eBay plans to share their findings with their retail partners, including some of Australia’s popular discount electronic chains Dick Smith and Bing Lee. They also plan to publish their findings some time next month.
Did you attend this lab? Let us know in the 3D Printing & Ebay forum thread on 3DPB.com.