Technology · · Marketers and designers

Product presentation on a new level using sensors and IOT

AR Experte Matthias Hamann

Matthias Hamann

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Sensors in marketing and product presentations
Sensors in marketing and product presentations

IOT is the technology buzzword of the decade and, as an umbrella term, the key driver of Industry 4.0. But only rarely are IOT technologies used in marketing and sales. Yet the possibilities in the areas of retail/POS, showrooms and trade fairs in particular are very diverse. This is a creative playground for engineers, designers and marketing experts - with the potential to present products excellently by merging real exhibits with digital technologies, thereby offering customers a whole new experience.

The Basic Idea

The product to be advertised or the surrounding area is equipped with one or more sensors. These could be proximity sensors, motion sensors, acceleration sensors or similar. The sensors trigger a defined "event", which in turn is processed by an application. This app generates corresponding digital representations on an output device (e.g. display or video wall).

Like this:
Product + Sensor(s) + Digital Content Display = New Experience.

The Status Quo is often rather boring

Anyone who has walked through trade shows more than once, especially in the B2B space, may be familiar with the issue. While most trade show booths are beautifully designed and more or less consistent with the exhibitor's CI, unfortunately, for the most part, they are also quite boring. Most products and exhibits stand well lit on monuments. Displays or video walls hang on the walls, showing the latest version of the image or product film. Occasionally, presentations can be discovered using iPads, touch panels or virtual reality. This makes it a bit more attractive, but to be honest, the wow factor has been off the table for a while. Plus, in a business context, many visitors don't feel like ruining their hairstyle with a sweaty headset.

In showrooms or retail/POS, it looks similar: a lot of product display and some digital elements - but the two are rarely linked.

Something is happening here right now, but large-scale innovative product presentations are still rare to find. After all, the classics of design, furniture and lighting have stood the test of time - so why change anything?

The fact that online retail is gradually knocking out the classic retail should actually encourage more creative product presentations and a better shopping experience.

What is possible today with sensors and IoT

Example 1: Sneaker with sensors and information display

Let's get a little crazy. What would happen if we ...

... put the latest sneaker in a classic setting, but also attached a transparent OLED behind it? A battery-powered motion sensor is integrated into the shoe. As soon as the consumer picks up the product, the display shows detailed information on the structure and function of individual elements and materials. The acceleration query can also be used to interact with the application on the display. For example, by swiping to the right or left. Of course, the focus is always on the real product - but enhanced with additional digital information.

Example 2: Showcasing sports cars

Or what if we ...

put the sports car in front of a video wall in the car dealership and equip it with touch or proximity sensors at various points? Depending on the activation of different sensors, short visuals start on the video wall that explain certain aspects of the product and present them in an exciting way. Wouldn't it be impressive to use the video wall to depict the flow behavior or the novel braking system?

Example 3: Making kitchen purchases interactive

Anyone who has ever bought a kitchen (I don't wish it on anyone) might find it helpful next time to make the selection between the eight million or so décor combinations of cabinet fronts and worktops a little more interactive and vivid. You often spend hours laying small sample boards next to each other, only to end up completely stumped. Wouldn't it be much more descriptive to staple or place various sample elements on marked and sensor-equipped surfaces of the sample kitchen? This would allow a 3D preview of the kitchen with the corresponding fronts and surfaces to be shown on large displays or a video wall.

In this example, the best of two worlds is combined, in that the customer can grasp the feel of the materials on the one hand, and on the other, gets a realistic (though virtual) impression of the effect.

IOT in Marketing

Example 4: Machinery and mechanics at trade shows

This approach also adds great value product presentation at trade fairs, especially in the field of mechanical engineering or mechanical components.

The advantages of technically complex products can be illustrated much more easily in this way with a little creativity. In combination with a presenting person, this could be particularly impressive.

For very heavy, large or altogether difficult-to-transport products, as well as for on-site international customer visits, it also makes sense to work with a model. These can be lightweight 3D printed products, for example, into which the sensors can also be integrated particularly easily.

There are countless other ways to use these technologies in a smart way for product presentations.

Why don't we see such approaches more often?

  • Many advertising specialists still think in very established patterns or are not familiar with the technical possibilities and therefore cannot develop concepts in this direction.
  • Equipping products with sensors can be very tricky; depending on their nature, the exhibits have to be prepared in a complex way, and may even have to be assembled by hand.
  • There is probably often simply a lack of courage to invest in these new approaches, as there is little reliable data on the effect on consumers
  • A "pedestal", "shelf" or "monument" with well-placed light is significantly cheaper than a digital installation or, of course, always represents a safe bank


An exemplary tech stack

  • Sensor - wired or wireless
  • Power supply via battery or if necessary via energy harvesting
  • Intel Nuc+ Raspberry PI or comparable setup (depending on performance requirements)
  • Web server with installed web application or Unity application
  • access point


There are almost no limits to the possibilities for innovative product presentation using IOT technologies.
Of course, in terms of implementation, the approaches presented here are often a challenge and always a ride into the unknown.

However, our experience with exotic approaches shows that the response from customers and visitors at trade fairs or in showrooms is extremely positive.

So, dear advertisers, designers and marketers - take a chance!

*Title image by Artill – Lukas Bischoff

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Matthias Hamann
Digital strategy and concept

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I write about my passion for technology and digital strategies. Would you like to find out more about how I work and my projects?

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