The Bilingual Smart Mirror Satisfying Dubai’s Ravenous Taste For Fashion Tech

Max Fashion’s bilingual, voice-activated smart mirrors are connecting the phygital divide to the tune of 20% in conversion rates. (Credit: Max Fashion/Ombori).Max Fashion/Ombori

Plugging into a demographic shift in the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa) so epic it’s been enterprisingly described as a “youth bulge” Microsoft MSFT -3.13% and Swedish tech gurus Ombori have partnered with UAE brand Max Fashion, part of the Landmark Group retail empire, on interactive voice activated mirrors designed to bridge the still-faltering gaps between physical retail, social media and digital commerce.

Located in Max Fashion’s Ibn Battuta Mall store in Dubai, there’s also the added sheen of bilingual communications; paying some significant technological respect to both Dubai’s natives and its international residents (85%) the mirrors converse in both English and Arabic, connecting users back to the relevant version of the brand’s e-commerce site.

As cities go there are few currently more valuable as a playground for retail tech. Dubai isn’t only one of the fastest growing economies in the world (it’s increasing at 3.7% annually) and the most visited (according to MA -1.82%Mastercard’s 2018 global destination index) it’s also one that’s home to an overwhelmingly youthful population – in the UAE an immense 34% of the population are a sprightly sub-25. It’s also one of the most futuristic. After all, this is the country that began piloting self-driving taxis just two months ago, with the somewhat improbable-sounding test flights for autonomous aerial cabs already underway.

The annual Sole DXB festival is indicative of Dubai’s swelling youth culture (Credit: Sole DXB).Sole DXB

Bolstered by influential media moves including the launch of Vogue Arabia in 2017 and the rising stock of lifestyle events like Sole DXB – the annual footwear, music, art, and lifestyle festival based in Dubai’s Design District saw attendance figures swell by 10k to 28k+ this year as well as pop ups and limited edition releases from brand giants including Levi’s, Reebok and Adidas – it’s become an important yet somewhat underrated sweet spot for courting a highly globalized cohort of the style conscious, fashion curious and hungry to test cutting edge tech.

Condé Nast launched Vogue Arabia in 2017 (Credit: Condé Nast). Condé Nast

In this instance that tech means two mirrors (one is placed at the entrance, the other sits deeper inside the store) designed to rally interactions that deliver a direct connection between the brand’s physical stores and its online presence. Created with slightly different roles in mind, the entrance mirror, which CEO of Ombori Andreas Hassellöf describes almost affectionately as, “the slightly more aggressive of the two” wakes up when motion sensors establish there’s someone nearby. It then invites them to scan a QR code with their smartphones to start interacting. This includes taking control of the screen – flicking it left and right – to scroll through product pages and checking levels of stock.

Advanced computing means that what’s on the display screen is mirrored on the shopper’s phone, creating a direct and relatively personal line between store and the e-commerce site, including instant purchase.

Hassellöf acknowledges that the idea of pulling fans directly into an e-commerce zone before they’ve even browsed the physical store may seem counterintuitive (let’s take it as a given that the best store tech should complement, elevate and/or fill in-store holes, not immediately dispense with the physical environment altogether), explaining that the crux of the concept is to promote the products or initiatives that wouldn’t necessarily make it to all stores. That, and act as a beacon for fashion’s early adopters.

[“source=forbes]