- Online home furniture retailer Wayfair updated its mobile application to include its augmented reality (AR) app WayfairView on the ASUS ZenFone AR smartphone, which debuted yesterday and is exclusively available in Verizon stores, according to a statement from the home decor retailer. By using Google's Tango AR technology — which is embedded in the phone — the Wayfair app lets customers see virtual furniture and décor in their homes at full scale before they buy.
- Customers who buy the ASUS ZenFone AR device will receive a $25 Wayfair gift card for a limited time. The retailer has a growing library of 3-D models of furniture that also can be seen on its website.
- The AR app was developed by the retailer's in-house research and development team, Wayfair Next. The company said its latest quarterly revenue rose 29% from a year earlier to $961 million.
Furniture shopping is quickly becoming one of the most touted uses of mobile AR, especially as Apple prepares to debut its next iPhone that is said to have the tech integrated with its operating system, making the tech more widely accessible to consumers. Google and ASUS are hoping to get a jump on Apple with the ASUS ZenFone AR, which comes in two unlocked versions and has a set of sensors and computer vision software so it can interpret images, videos, space and motion similar to humans, according to ASUS. Through Tango, the phone can leverage motion tracking, depth perception and area learning so it can detect how far it is away from a wall or object and where it is moving in 3D space. There are currently more than 35 apps on Google Play that are Tango compatible.
In December, Wayfair's AR app joined the ranks of companies that let customers see virtual furniture in their homes before making a purchase using their smartphone's camera. Ikea, Jerome's Furniture and Houzz are among the companies that also tout AR capabilities. The retailer is likely betting that its use of cutting-edge AR technology via Tango will give it a competitive edge.
An increasing number of companies adopting the emerging tech speaks to AR's power in lessening friction in consumers' path to purchase and also shows how the technology can boost in-app engagement and sales. Whether those engagement times will taper off after the novelty of AR has settled remains to be seen.
AR usage is estimated to grow 30% this year to 40 million people in the U.S. and reach 54.4 million people by 2019, according to eMarketer. Snapchat and Facebook are helping to drive growth in AR adoption with the use of lenses and masks in their camera features as a low-cost way to experiment with and drive interest in emerging AR technologies. A February International Data Corporation report predicts businesses will spend nearly $14 million on AR and virtual reality in 2017, up 130.5% from last year.