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Wayfair takes Magic Leap into mixed reality

Online homewares and furniture retailer Wayfair has this week announced the launch of a mixed-reality (MR) experience, allowing users to view virtual products in their homes.

The MR capability is powered by Helio, the first-ever spatial computing web browser courtesy of US company Magic Leap, linked to the Magic Leap One, Creator Edition headset which went on sale on Wednesday 8 August.

Wayfair argues that the new way of viewing products outside of the store environment “breaks the boundaries of traditional eCommerce” as it allows shoppers to pull their chosen items via holographic technology into a physical space. The items are to scale and can be viewed in 3D, and shoppers can rotate the products and experiment with different looks and layouts.

For example, consumers wearing the Magic Leap headset can investigate the dimensions and features of a kitchen table, and then virtually place it in their kitchen to see if it suits the decorations or fits with the existing design.

Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, commented: “Since day one, Wayfair has been committed to transforming the shopping experience for home – reimagining what’s possible in a category that is driven by visual imagery, inspiration and discovery.

“To that end, we’re constantly innovating to create an experience that allows our customers to find and engage with their favourite furniture and décor products in new and exciting ways.”

pic credit: Business Wire
pic credit: Business Wire

Magic Leap has several retail industry supporters, among them Karen Harris, managing director of Intu Digital, who recently heralded the imminent arrival of the company’s MR offering during a presentation at the Future Stores Europe event in London.

She suggested that mixed reality technology will be a retail game-changer in the next five years, and is a strong advocate of Magic Leap, which has significant investment from the likes of Chinese eCommerce titan Alibaba. The technology was originally set for launch in 2017, and the company has so far built up a reputation as much for its secrecy as its computer power.

Currently, the vendor is eyeing industry partnerships and trying to get in front of designers, developers and creatives in order to gain commercial traction.

“For me, it’s the first mobile phone all over again,” Harris explained at Future Stores Europe. “They’re going to start a new chapter in eCommerce.”

The Magic Leap One, Creator Edition headset is available for developers to order at $2,295. It is currently only available in US cities Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

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