Walmart iOS App Now Includes AR Scanner to Do Product Comparisons

We heard you loud and clear. We published the news that Walmart is planning on installing something on the handles of their carts to spy on you and track your shopping habits. The idea was widely unpopular, following the comments.

Walmart is adding tech to the shopping experience again, but this time they’re not spying on you. Now they want to help you with your shopping experience. They are adding an AR scanning tool to their iOS app to help customers conduct product comparisons at the store. The user can pass their phone over store shelves, and it will offer pricing details and product ratings.

Apple’s ARKit technology was used by a team at a Walmart hackathon to develop the app. They wanted to create something that would more quickly help users and wanted it to do more than just compare prices of products.

“Walmart store shoppers love using our mobile app barcode scanner as a price checker. Our team sees the potential of this product as so much more, though,” said Walmart Labs senior engineering manager Tim Sears.

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“When a customer launches the scanner, they get a direct connection between the digital and the physical world that their screen and camera lens creates for them.”

After the team won the hackathon, they worked on the design even more, and it was then added to the iOS app.

While visiting a Walmart store, you open the Walmart app, then point your phone at the products on the shelf that you’re interested in. As you go from one item to the next, the app will update the information with the product name, price, star rating, and the number of reviews it has.
Links to similar products are also included.

The scanner uses anchoring dots to determine what is being scanned but makes them small enough so that it won’t get mixed up between multiple items placed close together.

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Other retailers are using AR as well, including Amazon, Target, and Wayfair. But these other efforts often focus more on visualizing the product in your home, or in Target’s case, showing what makeup would look like when used on your face.

Walmart’s AR scanner aims to be more practical. It works on iPhones running at least 11.3. Since it works with the use of ARKit 1.5, it means mostly only people with fairly newer iPhones will be able to use this technology.

Furthermore, what Walmart can’t determine at this point is how useful this will be to consumers and how likely it will be to be utilized. Surely this is something that would be used more eagerly, though, than a shopping cart that spies on you.

But it does make it difficult to trust them knowing that they desire to spy on your shopping habits with the shopping cart. How can we trust them? The thought is definitely there that they could be spying on your shopping habits just as easily with this app, looking at what you’re considering. At least it’s not tracking your heart rate, though, like the shopping cart handle.

What do you think about the Walmart app’s new use? Can you trust them knowing what they want to do with shopping carts? Will you avoid the app at all costs, or do you think this is something that will actually be useful to you? Let us know your thoughts on Walmart adding the product comparison tool to its app in the comments.

Image Credit: MikeMozartJeepersMedia via Wikimedia Commons and Vimeo

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