Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Macy’s East may permanently change the meaning of “window shopping.”
Today, the Macy’s Herald Square flagship unveils interactive store windows. By the touch of a fingertip, customers can see various fashion and accessories lines, hear descriptions of the items and find out where to get them in the store. But the windows won’t be transactional, at least not yet.
Two of the six store windows at Macy’s Broadway entrance feature the Lifescapes ’97 system from The Decisioneering Group in Scottsdale, Ariz. To get the interactive effect, Lifescapes combines virtual technologies and computer animation as well as audio. The remaining four Macy’s windows showcase fashions from the catalog’s pages on mannequins.
The windows will be up through Thursday, Sept. 18.
Each window features an eight-foot-by-six-foot monitor with a video loop of a fashion show created from digitized photographs of women’s and men’s fashions from Macy’s fall catalog. The customer can touch a 17-inch interactive monitor, positioned behind the store window. The system uses a new technology that detects touch through one-inch thick nonconductive, protective glass.
The video menu asks the customer to select a women’s or men’s option. Then the customer can view 12 women’s or 12 men’s looks, viewing an image of an outfit by Polo Jeans, Dana Buchman or Lola, for example, and hearing a description of it, including fabric content and color availability.
Sam Joseph, director of windows at Macy’s East, said he read an article about the technology in June and wanted to install the windows as soon as possible in the Herald Square flagship.
Declining to reveal the cost of the project, Joseph said it’s “pretty pricy” and noted that the Decisioneering Group co-paid for the windows.
“They’re definitely the windows of the future,” said Joseph. “You don’t have the static mannequin thing.” He said frequently people see an outfit they like on a mannequin and when they try to find it in the store, “it’s good luck.”
“This will tell them what shop to find it in, it will interact with them, go back and forth between women’s and men’s and will have speakers on the street that talk to them,” he said.
He called the images “huge,” and said they’re in full color, and it will be operational 24 hours a day. Eventually, he believes people will be able to reserve items by using this technology.
“I could see doing an amazing cosmetics launch, or show the hot things for Christmas or holiday gifts. I see endless uses for this,” added Joseph.
“People were saying you won’t see this for the next 10 years, and lo and behold, here it is in Macy’s windows,” said Tom Blischok, chairman and ceo of The Decisioneering Group.
He said he showed the technology at a trade convention two years ago, and thought it would be three to five years before it came to reality.
“This puts a new meaning to the window shopping experience,” said Blischok. “We expect several million people to see this over the next several weeks. What this is really designed to do is bring the store to the customer on the street.”