Minnesota Ecommerce Startup Atique Launches A Pair of VR Apps

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screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-11-36-22-amBy Tyler Gieseke

A jewelry showroom that customers can explore from the comforts of home is a now a virtual reality, thanks to the launch of local startup Atique’s new apps on iOS and Android.

The free apps give online shoppers access to a 360-degree showroom using their smartphones just in time for the holidays. With a Google Cardboard or similar VR headset hardware, they can get the fully immersive three-dimensional VR experience.

Atique is a new online vendor of vintage and antique jewelry that comes from local jeweler R.F. Moeller, established in 1951. Its virtual-reality showroom, which the creators say is rare in the jewelry industry — and retail in general — is an effort to connect with a wider tech savvy audience.

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“The app allows anyone in the country to visit our showroom whenever they want,” says Atique President Katie Jones.  “You can see the quality and craftsmanship of the pieces remotely like never before.”

The app’s creators also hope it will inject more emotional experiences into online shopping.

“Antique jewelry is one of those items that you really want to see in person if you can,” explains Chuck Olsen, co-founder and CEO of Visual, a Minneapolis-based virtual reality production firm deeply involved in the production.

Shoppers who enter the basic version of the app’s showroom will find virtual chairs, a couch, end tables and windows in the lifelike space. Jewelry items sit at about eye level for the shopper’s inspection, and a moody piano composition serves as background music.

“I think we want to see what we can learn from this app and this experience for starters,” Jones says.

The app doesn’t yet allow shoppers to purchase items, but that could be added in the future, adding that both Visual and Atique are still not familiar enough with the VR retail landscape to go all-in with in-app purchases.

At the same time, market developments point to  ecommerce becoming more and more interactive.

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