MasterCard, which has sometimes struggled with Internet-of-Things (IoT) efforts, used a golf tournament to (dear readers, please forgive me for what I am about to perpetrate) gulf the digital divide from putting green on a golf course’s putting green. (Whatever you just said, I probably deserved it.)
In all fairness, MasterCard put on an impressive virtual reality demo at its sponsored Arnold Palmer Invitational. “While out on the course, golfers might simply tap their golf glove at the point-of-sale to buy refreshments from the beverage cart,” said a MasterCard statement. “MasterCard is taking it a step further with a concept designed in collaboration with Wearality, an Orlando-based start-up that designs virtual reality glasses and wearables, to allow consumers to identify an item within the experience – such as a golf shirt – and buy it without leaving the virtual world.”
Let’s put this into context. Someone watching the golf game was able to see with the glasses the game, but the display flagged specific shirts, shoes, golf clubs and other items. A quick movement will identify those items with pricing, color options and other attributes—allowing for a payment in (and potentially literally with) a blink of the eye.
This can get interesting. How many germane details can be offered about the game itself, to make wearing the glasses ultra desirable for attendees? Distance of a shot? Performance history of that player? Integration with a smartphone to allow urgent texts?
The concept of integrating virtual worlds into real worlds has been discussed and demonstrated before, but this demo showcased some practical daily potential uses, with payments integrated as a convenience, not the primary function.
MasterCard is far from alone. Alibaba just announced its first official virtual reality lab, called GnomeMagic Lab.
That all said, the trip from impressive demos to actual widespread deployment is lightyears long. But MC has the right idea. Flowing payment opportunities where it’s natural and seamless is the only way to go. Reaching out for a drink is natural, a payment-enabled glove makes sense—assuming it’s natural for those attendees to wear gloves.
If the glasses are providing lots of information to make the spectator sport more interesting—and please note that I said that without even hinting that golf suffers from an immense lack of interesting elements—and if the identification of buyable items in context feels natural, this could work.