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Alice in the land of artificial intelligence

Alice usually wakes up to the aroma of freshly-made coffee. When the coffee-maker starts working automatically, the curtains slowly part, letting in gentle rays of sunshine. Alice can’t help smiling as she opens her eyes.

  • “Good morning, Noux,” Alice says aloud.
  • “Good morning, Alice. You’ve slept eight and a half hours of restful sleep. It’s going to be a great day for your excursion to the mountains,” replies Noux, her virtual assistant.

Alice has her coffee while she looks out the window. Then she remembers her walking boots had split on her last excursion. She also thinks about what she should wear to the party that night in her friend Max’s house.

When she finishes her coffee, she asks the assistant to put some music on. She undresses and steps into the shower capsule.

  • “Noux, let’s begin to plan the day. I have to buy some boots for the excursion. And I forgot to return the dress I bought two weeks ago,” she says to the assistant as she dresses in front of her virtual mirror.”
  • “Perfect. According to the information I have, you’ll need stronger boots, since your walks are getting longer and more frequent. I’ve chosen some different brands and styles. Some shops have sent us discounts for being new customers. These are the options I think you’ll like,” replies the assistant as it projects the different products onto the virtual mirror.

Alice looks at the imperfections in her skin that the mirror indicates to her and she corrects them with the products the assistant recommends her. At the same time, she browses the boots that Noux has selected for her. When she has finished her morning facial, she chooses the boots she likes the most. The smart mirror projects an image of how they’ll look with all of her hiking gear. She loves the adventurous touch the retro-style boots give her.

Color IQ, the system created by Sephora and Pantone that automatically detects the skin tone of its users.
  • “What shop is on our way to pick up the boots?” she asks Noux.
  • “Just a second. I’m going to communicate with the shops’ systems.”

After a few seconds, the assistant tells her which shop is the nearest and the route she should take. She asks Alice for authorisation to make the purchase and reserve the boots to pick them up at an estimated time. Noux is also in touch with the other store, asking to return the dress. She just has to leave it in the shop to get the refund.

  • “When you tell me, I’ll call I-Drive,” she tells the assistant.

Alice has just prepared her backpack for the excursion; she puts on her smartwatch and leaves her house. The I-Drive is just a few metres from the house. Alice unlocks the vehicle’s door with her watch and gets into the driving seat.

Whenever she goes on an excursion to the mountains, she prefers to hire an I-Drive, since they give her greater freedom and flexibility. What she most likes about this kind of vehicle is that she can choose to either drive it or put it on automatic pilot.

Noux has plotted the fastest route to pick up the boots and return the dress before heading to the mountains. Alice just has to follow the satnav to get to the shops. At the first stop, she gets out of the car, which parks itself.

When she goes into the store, the shop assistant smiles and greets her by name. Alice isn’t surprised to be called by her name in her neighbourhood’s shops, since it’s very common for biometric recognition systems to keep their customers’ data to be able to offer them better-targeted products.

Alice walks to the customer service and returns section in the corner and hangs the dress on an automated rail. A small scanner checks that the labels and the dress are in good condition, then the rail moves and the dress disappears through a hatch to the storage room. In a few seconds, a notification appears on her watch telling her that her money has been refunded to her current account.

Before leaving, she takes a look around the shop, looking at this season’s latest garments. She looks closely at the intelligent hangers, seeing the kind of materials used to manufacture each garment, where each piece of them comes from, their level of sustainability and social impact.

This is Alice’s favourite clothes shop. She loves the kind of clothes they have, the level of sustainability of all the garments and the personalised designs they offer her every season. She takes a dress and carries it to the smart dressing room.

When she gets to the mirrors, she scans the garment and the screen shows how the dress would suit her, without having to physically put it on. Alice moves, turns around and takes a few steps. Then she asks the mirror to show her some matching sandals. The mirror’s style assistant shows her a full image and she loves how the clothes go together. The mirror confirms her shoe size and measurements. Alice goes to the counter to pick up the garments.

Amazon go, the cashierless in-store shopping experience
  • “Here are the sandals and dress you’ve chosen, Alice! They’ll look fantastic on you!”, the shop assistant smiles.
  • “Thanks a lot. I’ve got a dinner tonight and I want to put on something new. By the way, I’m going hiking now. Could you send them to my home?”
  • “Of course. No problem. Connect your assistant so it can confirm your address in our system and arrange the delivery. You’ll have everything when you get home.”

Alice hands back the dress to the shop assistant and leaves the shop. A few seconds later, Noux sends her a message confirming the purchase and delivery from the shop. She hurries into the I-Drive because she’s spent more time than she expected.

Noux has updated the route to save time, since the traffic has got worse on the original route. When she reaches the sports shop, she gets out quickly and goes to the pick-up zone for orders. Noux gets the QR code ready on her watch, she scans it and a robot shop assistant  hands over her boots in a few seconds. Alice dashes out of the shop, not wanting to waste any more time.

Getting back in the car, she puts the car into automatic drive to be able to try on the boots. She finds they fit perfectly. She relaxes a little and lets the car drive her out of the city while she enjoys the view of the green fields with the giant wind turbines that give the city all of its electric power.

When she reaches the foothills, she orders Noux to synchronise the chosen route for that day and follow her activity in silence. She switches on her mini sports camera and starts walking.

This is Alice’s favourite hobby and she does it every weekend: hiking in the woods and gazing from the mountain tops at the majestic city without that old grey layer sitting above it that she remembers from her childhood.

She thinks about her father and the first hikes she did with him in those mountains. She becomes nostalgic thinking that he wasn’t able to see the blue sky or how their country progressively met all the goals for removing carbon footprints until fossil fuels were finally phased out.

When she reaches the top, the magical silvery light crowns the whole valley at her feet. Her heart fills with joy and she takes a few photos with her camera. She remains contemplating the landscape in silence, until Noux interrupts her with a notification.

  • “Sorry, Alice. But there’s a warning for rain in the area. You’ve got just enough time to get back down to the car.”

She heeds her assistant’s warning. Descending the mountain quickly, she follows the path she knows. When she reaches the I-Drive, the rain begins to fall heavily. She gets in the car and thanks Noux for the warning. Then she starts up the car and drives to the motorway. She puts it on automatic and chooses some relaxing music.

  • “By the way, Noux, choose whatever wine you like and some snacks to take to Max’s house.”
  • “OK, Alice. They’ll be at home when you arrive,” the assistant replies as she closes her eyes and the rain splashes on the car’s windows.

This futuristic tale set in the year 2030 sounds like science fiction. However, though it may surprise many, there are fashion and retail businesses and companies that are already using the technologies described above (smart mirrors and dressing rooms, shops with nobody at a cash register, omnichannel customer service, etc.) to provide a better, newer experience for their customers.

The future is already here!


Author Sciling

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