Intel debuts immersive retail tech and AREA15 deal at NRF 2020

Innovative tech art installations, robotic coffee shops and seamless checkout systems were only a few of the things on display.

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Much of the cutting-edge tech on display at the National Retail Federation's 2020 Big Show was designed to help retailers better serve their customers. 

But a sizable chunk of space was devoted to the kind of flashy flourishes that aimed to dazzle consumers and lure them back into the brick-and-mortar retail experience.

SEE: NRF's Big Show highlights: Cutting-edge tech, robots, and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Intel offered much of its tech ecosystem on display at NRF 2020 this week in New York City. And the company announced a new deal with AREA15, an experiential retail and entertainment complex in Las Vegas.


Opening in April 2020, the AREA15 property in Las Vegas will include a flexible platform where Intel innovation will play an integral role.

Image: The Vox Agency

The parties are collaborating on "immersive experiential retail design" through the launch of the Intel Experience Incubation Hub in Las Vegas later this year.

AREA15 is opening in April, just a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip, where researchers, technologists and creatives can test out brand-new retail experiences and fresh design concepts. 

"Today, only top retailers can afford to explore and implement experiential design in their stores. We believe immersive, authentically engaging and inspiring experiences in retail are not only possible, but should be accessible for all," said Joe Jensen, Intel vice president and general manager of the retail, banking, hospitality and education division.

He gave TechRepublic a tour of the Intel booth at NRF 2020 and showed off some of the company's latest offerings. 

"Ecosystem collaboration is in Intel's DNA. AREA15 will help provide scalable, world-class experiential retail solutions for retailers and brands of all sizes." 

At NRF 2020, visitors got a taste of a few Intel displays that will make their way to AREA15 later this year, including work from the storytelling company Papinee and the technology company Variant as well as an interactive mural from the artist TRAV and Pressure Point Creative.

SEE: Deep learning: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Papinee's multisensory educational and entertainment experiences were front and center at NRF 2020 while Variant displayed its zero-inventory, on-demand business model that removes costly barriers to entry, encourages designer creativity and empowers retailers by allowing them to co-create exclusives.

On the outside walls of the Intel booth, the "Beyond the Streets" interactive mural installation built by TRAV and the Pressure Point Creative featured conductive paint with touch-sensitive sensor and sound.


Intel's booth at NRF 2020 showcases the intersection of art and technology that is pushing the boundaries of immersive, engaging experiences in branded and retail environments.

Image: Intel

"We've had a lot of dialogue around hyper convenience," said Jensen. "There is a lot of focus around how you take away the friction away from shoppers."

"The new realization is that shopping is something people still like. People like shopping. They're having lots of things delivered though, so when they get up and go out it better be worth it. The idea is, I don't want to go to another boring store. If I'm going to go somewhere, it should be engaging, exciting, interesting," Jensen added. 

"And if I'm going to go, they better have what I want. There's a lot of challenge and pressure on retail with how to get those engaging experiences. Part of what we're trying to do here is show some leading edge engagement."

In a statement, Intel described AREA15's technical and physical infrastructure while explaining that it "will be modular, allowing for innovations coming out of the Experience Incubation Hub to be easily tested for proof of concept and scalability—within AREA15 and beyond." 

This includes displays at pop-up shops, short-term engagements or leases and more permanent installations. 

"AREA15 is a radical reimagining of retail, where visitors can expect to be authentically engaged and inspired in an otherworldly setting," said Winston Fisher, CEO of AREA15 and partner in Fisher Brothers. 

"Experience design cannot be separated from technology—it is essential that the two are intertwined and co-developed. That's where our collaboration with Intel comes in. Together, we're raising the standard of experience design, and developing best practices for combining technology, art and commerce in exciting, unexpected ways."

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