In a statement this week, Target announced that it added a couple of new augmented reality-esque features to its mobile website. Aimed at helping consumers determine if a piece of furniture fits in their home prior to making the purchase, Target’s “See It In Your Space” function lets the user manipulate products on top of actual pictures of their home or living space.
I say it’s AR-esque because the application of the technology isn’t augmented reality in the traditional sense. To their credit, Target has enabled this feature on devices without the need of additional (or up-to-date) hardware or software. That means iPhone users without the latest iOS will still be able to use the feature, because ARKit is not required for it to work. That does, however, mean that this isn’t truly augmented reality. Target essentially requires the user to take a picture of the space they’d like to see the furniture in, and then have that picture go through an on-site process that then places a 3D version of the piece of furniture into the scene. You can move the furniture around and see it in proper scale, but what you’ll be looking at is a static photo.
It’s a unique concept that plays off of the excitement AR is bringing to the online retail world. But it’s a stretch to call this true AR. Personally, I’d prefer the ability to walk around the room and see what the piece of furniture looks like from multiple angles. You, theoretically could do that with the Target program, but that would require taking umpteen photos and going through all of the steps with each individual photo.