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Wayfair takes augmented reality, Project Tango to the enterprise

Sharon Gaudin | May 30, 2016
With the app, customers would be able to see how a piece of furniture fits in their living room.

Wayfair was one of the companies Google touted at I/O, its annual developer conference in Mountain View, Calif., last week.

The company's sessions on Project Tango created a lot of interest with its demo of how organizations, including Wayfair and the American Museum of Natural History, are using it.

First announced in 2014, Project Tango gives devices the ability to know their position in the world, using sensors and other technologies, and processing the information quickly, without using GPS or other external signals.

Google said it has incorporated basic Tango APIs into Android N, the next version of Google's mobile OS, which is expected to be released late this summer.

Lenovo is expected this summer to release the first of what Google says will be "many, many" Project Tango-enabled smartphones. More information on the smartphone, including a release date, is expected at Lenovo's Tech World conference on June 9 in San Francisco.

When that first Tango-enabled device reaches the market, Wayfair wants its app to be ready to go.

Wayfair first entertained the idea of a Project Tango app last summer when Festa built a proof-of-concept app during a company hack-a-thon.

The idea caught on and the company began working on what will be the official Wayfair Tango app in January.

The company has about 3,000 of its approximately 7 million products on the app. Festa said the company can add about 10,000 products per month and hopes to have tens of thousands ready by the time the app goes live this summer.

At this point, Wayfair is focused on creating an app that will work on a two-dimensional device screen. It's an augmented reality application, where the user sees the real world, but artificial, computer-generated content is placed in it.

One day, though, Festa said he hopes Wayfair will have a virtual reality app where customers will use headsets.

"Seeing it on a device on a two-dimensional screen is a lot more natural and a lot more now," said Festa said. "With a lot of virtual reality or augmented reality, you need the headsets. That can be really intimidating. With Tango, people can get this now and it's an immediate adoption that I think we'll see because it'll be more approachable… There's a lower barrier to entry. There's a lot of potential for what VR could be but not for right now."


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