Augmented reality continues to go mainstream with a series of retail app launches this week that leverage Google's ARCore. Lowe's, Overstock and IKEA are all rolling out refreshed consumer apps with native AR functionality.
Lowe's is introducing a new augmented reality feature within the Lowe's consumer app that leverages Google's ARCore. The feature, called View in Your Space, lets consumers place products, scaled to size, in open areas around their home to better visualize how they'll fit into the space.
Lowe's launched a similar feature last year via Apple's ARKit. However, this news is slightly different because the AR feature is offered inside of the regular Lowe's consumer app, whereas Apple's iteration came in the form of two apps outside of the Lowe's app.
Meanwhile, Overstock -- which also has an AR equipped iOS app via ARKit -- today launched an Android app that lets shoppers preview furniture and other home items before purchasing. Likewise, IKEA's Place app, previously available only on iOS, is now coming to Android on ARCore-enabled devices.
The common thread through all of the apps is an effort to solve problems posed by visualization. Consumers today have plenty of shopping tools at their disposal, but the ability to make informed purchasing decisions can still be a challenge. AR technologies could reduce confusion and encourage sales.
As for the tech providers, both Apple and Google have been priming the augmented reality pump with retail app partnerships to show what's possible with virtual room design, indoor mapping, retail applications -- and even business workflows.
eBay launched an app for its sellers that lets them use AR to find the right size box for items they need to ship to customers. Merchants can place real-world items inside of a variety of virtual boxes to determine the right USPS flat rate box.
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The aim with the AR experiment is to create an immersive dual-screen experience that brings shoppers closer to the network and the brands that sell within it.
Augmented reality is likely to become a key cog in digital transformation efforts. Cue the race between Apple and Google.
One is software without a device. The other is a device without any software. Both could be big plays for developers.