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AR You Shopping With Wayfair

By Moetsi.

From baths to jewellery boxes, and a whole range of bidets, you might be mistaken for thinking that Wayfair is simply an online furniture store. But did you know that they’re pushing the boundaries of computer vision technology too?

With over half of their customers placing orders on mobile, Wayfair have just gone through a refresh of their app, adding three new features built on the back of augmented reality tech. Designed to make “the entire mobile shopping experience even more seamless and uniquely tailored to every shopper’s needs,” let’s take a little look at how they are pushing AR mainstream.

With over half of their customers placing orders on mobile, Wayfair have just gone through a refresh of their app, adding three new features built on the back of augmented reality tech Click To Tweet
Interactive Photo for View in Room 3D

Utilizing the power of Apple’s ARKit, Wayfair’s “View in Room 3D” gave shoppers the opportunity to visualize how new products fit into their homes. However, as Shrenik Sadalgi, Head of Wayfair Next, explained to me, “consumer AR is having a tough time with adoption because people don’t like staying in one space and holding the phones up for a long period.”

Consumer AR is having a tough time with adoption because people don't like staying in one space and holding the phones up for a long period Click To Tweet

So to get their customers actually using their powerful AR tool, Wayfair has introduced “Interactive Photo”. A sort of “AR on the go” application, Interactive Photo utilizes breakthrough technology to understand the spatial information of a room just from a picture. You no longer need to actually be in the same place to visualize new products and can play around when you’ve got a bit more time, or when inspiration strikes.

The Integrated Camera

The new app puts your mobile camera at the forefront of your shopping experience. By introducing a camera icon to the search bar, you can toggle Search with Photo with just a single click, letting you visually search for that perfect bidet you just came across in a matter of seconds. What’s better, you can then visualise how that bidet looks in your bathroom by using Interactive Photo and make a purchase straight from the app.

By introducing a camera icon to the search bar, you can toggle Search with Photo with just a single click Click To Tweet
Room Planner 3D

Wayfair’s app refresh also brings the full functions of their Room Planner 3D tool to mobile. With this tool, you can input the dimensions of your room in order to create a dollhouse version of your space. You can then engage with the full decorating experience, introducing new colour schemes, features and furniture before you go ahead and place an order. With the ability to view the room from every angle, this allows you to play with design in new and intuitive ways, and straight from your phone.

Wayfair’s app refresh also brings the full functions of their Room Planner 3D tool to mobile Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, this doesn’t create an exact replica of your room, but rather a likeness that can help you understand its geometry. However, I am told 3D mapping for Room Planner is in the pipeline. This will allow you to scan your home, and create a complete virtual replica which you can decorate however you like. No word on when, yet.

As Sadalgi explained to me, “Wayfair tries to look far into the future, emerging tech, analyze it, and see if it helps solve our customer’s problems.”

“Naturally, AR was one of the first things we worked on. Being able to view things in the context of your space, and understand size and dimensions is really important, especially for furniture shopping. However, when you’re shopping in the store, you don’t have that context, which is what the Wayfair app does. It brings the store into your home.” explained Sadalgi

Being able to view things in the context of your space, and understand size and dimensions is really important, especially for furniture shopping Click To Tweet

So it will come as no surprise to learn that Wayfair is a contributing member of The Khronos Group — a collaboration between leading tech and retail companies with the goal to accelerate the creation of 3D-modelling standards.

“Despite the trend toward the ubiquity of 3D content, there’s a lack of cross-platform standards for displaying virtual product models, preventing 3D content from being experienced consistently across devices,” continued Sadalgi. “With emerging technologies empowering retailers to create highly-practical, immersive digital experiences, 3D is more impactful than ever before. Having been at the forefront of this transformation, we’ve learned that in order to scale these experiences and make them truly mainstream, standardization is a critical next step. We’re proud to be part of this vital alignment between 3D tool vendors, content creators, manufacturers, retailers and platforms.”

With emerging technologies empowering retailers to create highly-practical, immersive digital experiences, 3D is more impactful than ever before Click To Tweet

Unlike many other AR applications, which are nothing short of gimmicks, Wayfair is harnessing this new technology to directly improve their customer’s shopping experience. But by firmly claiming a seat at the table, could we also be seeing the start of something entirely new for the furniture store? Just as Amazon diversified away from selling books, and now dominates cloud computing, could we be seeing the beginnings of Wayfair’s dominance in the world of augmented reality and 3D mapping? Only time will tell. There’s just one thing I can tell you for definite — that bidet sure does look good in my bathroom.

Olenka Polak is the co-founder of Moetsi along with Adam Polak, whose open source Sensor Stream Pipeline makes it easier to process sensor data data off device, without throttling bandwidth. When she’s not working on Moetsi’s open source project, you can find her at AWE nights in Brooklyn, NY, excited about all things XR.