Emerging tech that took off

Where NRF Innovation Lab alumni are now

NRF’s annual convention and expo brings together thousands of retailers looking for the newest and hottest ways to improve the customer experience. The Innovation Lab showcases the latest advances in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning, facial recognition, robotics and more, promising to help retailers deliver seamless customer convenience and thoughtful experiences. Since its inception in 2017, the Innovation Lab has featured more than 75 technologies working across the shopping journey.

We wanted to look back and see where past Innovation Lab participants are now. Since debuting their technologies, these alumni have gone on to expand globally, raise millions in venture funding and be acquired by international brands including Google and Nike. Here’s a snapshot of major highlights:


  • Banter, which helps businesses connect with their customers over messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, was acquired by Google.
  • Invertex, a computer vision firm, was acquired by Nike to strengthen its digital technology platforms.
  • Handy, an on-demand platform for assembly and installation services, recently announced store partnership with Walmart and was acquired by Angi.

Fundraising and expansions

Volumental at the NRF 2018 Innovation Lab
Volumental’s shoe-fitting solutions
  • Optoro, a reverse logistics technology company, recently closed a $75 million equity funding round to fuel expansion with Jet, Target, Staples, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Under Armour, Groupon and others soon to be announced.
  • Purple, a Wi-Fi and location SaaS solution, raised $10.4 million from new investors and acquired new clients including McDonald’s, Miami Heat, Pilot Flying J and many more.
  • Volumental, a 3D scanning and AI footwear platform, raised a post seed round of $1.4 million, launched partnerships with Melissa Shoes, Roadrunner Sports and Bauer Hockey for skate customization, and became the quickest growing database of feet in the world after completing over 1 million foot scans in June 2018.
  • Dor, an in-store customer traffic analytics solution, closed its Series A funding round of $8.5 million and rolled out a more robust version that focuses on retail needs for optimizing staffing and conversions. 
  • Branch Messenger, an employee self-service platform, raised a $10 million Series A and launched Branch Pay, allowing hourly workers to get access to their earnings instantly.

New tech advancements

  • Slyce, a visual product search technology, has seen significant growth, bolstered by an upgrade of its Visual Search SDK and recent introduction of “Find Similar” service and “Shop the Look” tech that enables consumers to shop items from social photos. It has grown to more than 60 retailers, with 20 joining since NRF 2018. Among the new brands are Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, TJMaxx, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and Landmark Group. 
    June 20 Converge at NRF 2018 Innovation Lab
    June 20 Converge at NRF 2018 Innovation Lab
  • Spacee, deviceless mixed reality for visual retail, expanded its product line to include TouchGlass, which turns any size glass surface into an interactive touchscreen and is now deployed in Tailored Brands Flagship Men’s Warehouse in NYC. Spacee also created reactive products for H.H. Brown, where a consumer picks up a shoe and the TV will react.
  • Satisfi Labs, an AI conversation platform, is launching a new retail product with Techstars and Target this month.
  • EverThread, a dynamic product visualization technology, expanded into new verticals beyond home goods including footwear, apparel, accessories and home improvement.
  • Revieve, Digital Beauty Advisor, now allows brands to acquire key data for skin and beauty-related consumer habits. Revieve is also providing technology for color cosmetics and can automatically detect users’ undertone, skin tone, eye color and face shape. 
  • June20 Converge, a digital + physical product display company, launched a new content delivery system that allows real time updates for displays at all locations. It is piloting at Sam’s Club for connected health products, and rolled out 120 locations in Target stores with Verizon.

New retail partners

  • ProVision, the interactive 3D holographic media kiosk, launched a new program with Coinstar in over 400 locations including Giant Eagle stores, and began a partnership with PharMark. 
  • Salesfloor, a technology that allows customers to shop online directly with local sales associates, doubled its client base since NRF 2018, adding retailers including Buy Baby, Lilly Pulitzer, Want Apothecary, Relax the Back, Saint Bernard, Johnny Was, Peruvian Connection, BA&SH and Bixler’s.
  • Augment, an AR content and distribution platform, has deployed to Fnac, Leroy-Merlin, Mediamarkt and King Jouet and is now live in 10 major retailers. It is also working with 22 global brands to populate 3D products catalog. Augment released a 3D viewer that is embeddable in any website, making it the biggest 3D content distribution network between retailers and brands.
  • Ksubaka, which transforms shopper engagement with gamified customer experiences, is now working with the Alibaba group in China and Europe and running a new AR campaign for Johnson & Johnson in China in the baby and mom category.

Register for NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show to get a look at the latest class of emerging technologies and companies poised to change retail. And for a sneak peek at this year’s lab, visit the official website.