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Making virtual shopping more like the real thing.

Techstination feature for Wednesday, April 19, 2000

More reality to virtual shopping? There are some real conveniences to shopping online. You can do it at two in the morning in your bathrobe. You don't have to put up with mall parking lots and comparing prices can be a lot easier too. But on the down side, you can't really get a good look at what you're buying. Or can you? A company called Metastream has been working on technology that will let you pick things up, turn them around and get a close up view. Well, sort of...

"We provide a unified environment for consumers that provides them with an in-store experience. When they pick up products, they can open them, close them, turn them on, turn them off, inspect them from any angle and generally they have a kind of hands-on experience that they would have in a store."

Metastream CEO Bob Rice. The technology works over a standard dial-up Internet connection. Some big companies, like Sony... are using it to sell digital cameras, for instance, on the Web...

"And as you can see here, Fred, as I rotate this object, you can see the light crawling across it just as it would in a store, a real-time shadow. It's using the mouse to pick up the object and rotate it and inspect it from any angle, just as you would in an in-store experience."

Okay, so it's not quite the same. But it's still pretty cool. See for yourself at You can find us at Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin, for CBS News.