A virtual reality simulation for supermarket shopping

What can supermarkets change to help customers shop more safely?

Latest data from Public Health England attempts to identify where people testing positive for Covid-19 might have contracted the disease. Unsurprisingly, at the top of the list of suspects are Supermarkets (PHE Common Exposure Report Week 47).

During a lockdown, many industries grind to a halt. But whilst cafes and restaurants are forced to close, supermarkets brace themselves for an increase in activity. And because supermarkets are under greatest pressure when the coronavirus is thriving, it is vital that everything possible is being done to protect customers.

We have developed a virtual reality simulation that provides a vehicle for analysing social distancing issues in supermarkets (Supermarket Simulation). The power of virtual reality enables us to experiment with alternative store configurations and simulate the shopping experience in a safe and controlled manner.

Already, the project has identified several issues:

We are conducting user research to examine the above issues and to explore solutions. The results of the project will provide recommendations on how supermarkets should respond to pandemic in order to optimise customer safety. The principles gleaned from this work will potentially be adopted long term as supermarkets may wish to consider the spread of disease generally, such as seasonal flu.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

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