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Technology: Walmart Expands Its Metaverse Ambitions

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

Walmart is placing its bets on metaverse technologies as it announced the acquisition of an AR developer, and launched new augmented reality shopping experiences.

The latter initiative sees Walmart updating its customer shopping app with two new augmented reality (AR) solutions, which are rolling out this month on its iOS app.

The new feature will allow shoppers to use AR visuals to view items like furniture or home decoration in their own homes, using their iPhone or iPad.

Walmart goes virtual, with an app that allows shoppers to virtually place furniture or decorations in their home, in a high-tech ‘try before you buy’ digital solution.

The app will initially support 300 3D assets and is set to expand to additional products and mobile browser platforms over the coming months.

To use the new feature, customers can bring up the digital assets in a 3D format using the View in Your Space function. The app then guides the user to place the digital furniture item in their home, so they can see how it looks in a particular room.

Walmart says it is also looking at additional uses for the AR technology, like finding items for special dietary needs, using vouchers or coupons, and finding items that are on clearance sales.

The app’s new functions went through thorough testing, and got an overwhelmingly positive response, Walmart says.

“The visuals were so realistic and it didn’t place an item in a strange spot as with some other apps,” said one of the testers. “I often don’t even try this feature in other apps for this reason but I’m very impressed. I really loved this experience.”

The rollout is also part of a much wider adoption of metaverse technology, coming just six months after Walmart announced in January it would open a potential Metaverse shopping experience for its customers using assisted virtual reality (VR) experiences, cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the blockchain, and many other digital technologies.

Walmart To Acquire AR Optical Tech Company Memomi

A customer tries out glasses on Walmart’s augmented reality system, developed by Memomi.

Walmart’s other big move in the AR and metaverse space was an agreement to acquire an AR optical tech company called Memomi.

The tech company has been working with Walmart since 2019, and essentially provides digital measurements for all of Walmart and Sam’s Club optics customers. The program operates in more than2,800 Walmart Vision Centers and 550 Sam’s Clubs, and it also enables the Optical eCommerce experience on Sam’s Club.com.

Essentially, Memomi allows clients to virtually try on and measure glasses prior to purchase, and the system can be used in-store or at home.

“Customers are looking for access to care digitally, in their homes, and purchasing eyeglasses is no different,” said David Reitnauer, Vice President, Specialty Services, Walmart Health & Wellness. “This acquisition supports our Health & Wellness mission to provide accessible care to the communities we serve.”

Memomi is a leading provider of technology to enhance virtual optical try-on experiences, helping customers virtually “try on” eyewear in real-time for a seamless, easy and fun omnichannel experience, the company says.

“Walmart’s ability to roll out our virtual try-on and contact-free digital measurements service in a short period of time shows how committed Walmart is to its customers’ need for digital care in-stores and at home,” said Ofer Saban, Chief Technology Officer, Memomi.

The acquisition is expected to close in the coming weeks, and Memomi employees will join the Walmart Global Tech organization.

“We’re excited to welcome the Memomi team to Walmart and add their capabilities to our leading virtual reality technology that is transforming the retail experience for our customers and members,” said Cheryl Ainoa, Senior Vice President, New Businesses & Emerging Tech, Walmart Global Tech.

“We are looking forward to joining Walmart and offering our innovations and user experiences to such a large scale both in-store and online,” said Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, CEO, Memomi.

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