- Stock photo and audio company Shutterstock added an augmented reality (AR) feature to its iOS app to let customers view computer-generated images from its library against the wall of a room. The feature targets retailers and restaurant owners who use Shutterstock's images for interior decorating, per a company announcement.
- IPhone or iPad users can tap a "view in room" button in the app to see Shutterstock's 250 million photos in AR, the technology that overlays digital images on the real world through a smartphone camera. The feature lets users position the image on a wall to see how it looks and fits before licensing it in physical artwork.
- Shutterstock developed the AR feature during its annual hackathon that urges employees to create promising technologies, Jon Oringer, founder and CEO of Shutterstock, said in a statement. "We decided to put this hack into production because of its potential to have an immediate customer impact," he said.
Shutterstock's new AR feature again demonstrates how the technology has become a key marketing tool for home furnishing companies. When Apple two years ago introduced its ARKit to help developers more easily add AR features to their apps, furniture retailer Ikea was among the first few companies to let customers more accurately see how its products would look in their home and office spaces through a mobile device. The goal was to improve customer satisfaction and reduce product returns by helping shoppers to visualize home decorations before making a purchase.
The addition of AR features to Shutterstock's iOS app may help it reach more customers in the interior design industry or people simply looking to browse art for their home. The company said its revenue grew 6.7% to $162.1 million in Q4 2018 from a year earlier, excluding the sale of digital asset management service Webdam a year ago. Shutterstock's paid downloads rose 6.6% to 46.8 million, while revenue per download edged upward by 2.1% to $3.40, the company reported. The new AR feature could help Shutterstock catch up to home furnishing companies and boost its brand recognition among consumers.
Meanwhile, worldwide spending on AR and virtual reality (VR) is set to surge 69% to $20.4 billion this year from $12.1 billion in 2018, the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated. The industries that are expected to spend the most on AR/VR this year include personal and consumer services ($1.6 billion), retail ($1.56 billion) and discrete manufacturing ($1.54 billion). Spending on online retail showcasing, which includes features like Shutterstock's latest, will reach $558 million this year, per IDC.
The growth in AR spending by brands and the rollout of high-speed 5G mobile service is set to drive growth of AR shopping to 100 million consumers by next year, Gartner research found. Retailers are forecast to continue to add AR technology to their stores and e-commerce channels to provide more immersive experiences for customers and practical shopping assistance for at home, in stores and on-the-go browsing.