eBay Plans New Augmented Reality Features


eCommerce marketplace eBay will add new augmented reality (AR) features this year to make shopping on its site more engaging. As a result, the auction site is at work on a new AR kit, Fortune reported.

With the kit, eBay could let shoppers see how something would look — like a set of new tires on a car — before bidding on or buying an item. It could also help sellers choose the right box size for an item by showing an image of a box over an item for sale.

The features are part of eBay’s growth strategy as it uses artificial intelligence (AI) data to customize a visitor’s homepage experience and, in general, bring more fun to online shopping. The company is seeking to reach customers beyond those who come to the site knowing exactly what they want to purchase.

“Personalization is all about getting you to buy things you didn’t know you wanted,” said Mohan Patt, eBay vice president of buyer experiences.

To help its personalization efforts, eBay announced the hire of Jan Pedersen Tuesday (Feb. 13). Pedersen, who previously served as Twitter’s vice president of data science, will lead its AI technology implementation.

Retailers like eBay are perhaps unexpected entrants into the AR and virtual reality (VR) market, but retail is proving to be an area in which being there virtually can be seamlessly substituted for actually being there in person. The applications for such technology are wide-ranging, with some apparel brands working to make it easier for customers to enter their measurements, snap a photo and virtually “try on” a new outfit.

In addition, furniture and interior design brands — notably both Wayfair and Ikea — are making it easier for customers to upload their living room (or a photo of it, anyway) and then digitally arrange and rearrange possible furniture items and accessories so they can test drive their redecoration inspirations before actually committing to them.