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In “Minority Report,” a 2002 science-fiction thriller starring Tom Cruise, futuristic technology allows the characters to control enormous glass computer screens with sweeping motions of their arms. It’s a technology that’s still restricted to fiction, but that didn’t stop David Lauren, a senior vice president at Polo Ralph Lauren (and, yes, Ralph’s son), from using the Tom Cruise flick as the chief inspiration for “Virtual Window Shop,” a new marketing tie-in for the clothing brand’s sponsorship of the 2006 U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, N.Y.
rnUntil Sept. 10, visitors to the Polo store at 888 Madison Ave. (near 71st Street, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side), can take advantage of 24-hour window shopping via a 67-inch touch screen that is projected onto the store’s main display window. After that, the Virtual Window Shop will be taken down, but three kiosks using similar technology will be set up at the U.S. Open event itself.
The Polo store is located on a chic stretch of Manhattan’s Madison Avenue that’s better known for high prices than for high technology. Neighboring stores include Gucci, Prada and Chloé. No word on whether those designer brands might catch on to touch-screen shopping too.
In daylight, the “Virtual Window Shop” at Polo Ralph Lauren is barely visible over the U.S. Open-themed mannequin display. (You can faintly see the white background of the touch screen as well as the red “Polo” lettering over it.)
Unfortunately, you can’t shop for the entire Polo selection through the touch-screen window: Most of the selection is directly tied to the U.S. Open promotion. A display of items for women, shown here, features tennis dresses, warm-up jackets and Polo logo shirts. In addition to shopping, visitors to the installation can click around to learn tennis tips and bits of notable U.S. Open trivia.
A Polo employee in full tennis garb demonstrates the clickable purchasing process. Shoppers can either purchase an item on the spot or have a reminder message sent to their e-mail addresses.
At night, the “Virtual Window Shop” not only adds a splash of light to a darkened Manhattan street, it projects a mirror image of the touch-screen display onto the sidewalk.