Walmart’s new augmented reality feature lets you know how to buy home decor

Walmart app users will soon be able to see what upcoming furniture purchases will look like in their homes and offices, thanks to new augmented reality technology.

The retail giant today announced a new “Display in Your Space” feature, which will be visible on compatible home décor items in the Walmart app, allowing users to view an augmented reality version of a desk — or any other potential purchase — in their room using a smartphone screen and camera. . They will be able to drag and drop an item where it might be placed, with its dimensions appearing on the screen.

And since the company’s proprietary AI is able to detect things like walls and floors, the piece of furniture won’t simply float in midair (a common problem with competing apps); Instead, you’ll realistically be sitting on the floor.

“We can actually really understand strong relationships with walls — where walls meet together, physical devices meet together,” says Cheryl Ainoa, senior vice president of new business and emerging technology for Walmart’s global technology unit. “That was the thing we spent the most time on, because we felt it was critical to the client in making it really usable.”

The team behind the app has also taken steps to make it more accessible to people with limited vision or movement. Screen reader-compatible instructions guide people through using the new feature, and the optional gesture navigation can be a boon for people who find it difficult to navigate the traditional drag-and-drop interface, says Inoa.

The new feature comes as customers are becoming more accustomed to buying invisible furniture during the coronavirus pandemic, says Brock McKell, senior vice president of location experience at Walmart US

With the feature rolled out — it’s expected to work with about 300 furniture and home décor products by July, with back-to-school and holiday items added in the coming months — the company plans to track a number of traditional metrics to see if McKeil says it reduces friction in shopping and buying for customers. .

[Image: courtesy of Walmart]

Ainoa says Walmart will also track whether the feature leads to lower rates of return — a sign that customers have better experiences with a category of merchandise that often requires shipping or delivery and collection before a buyer can fully experience it.

It’s not the only AR feature Walmart is testing: The company is developing an in-store feature to allow customers to automatically highlight items on shelves that match certain criteria, such as price points or ingredients. It actually offers an application tool that allows users to display clothes on a chosen style that matches their appearance. And Sam’s Club, the Walmart-owned retailer, recently released a virtual try-on feature for glasses available through its optics store.

“With whatever we do and how we prioritize our work, it’s all customer focused,” says McKeel.

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