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Walmart's mobile barcode scanner to go the augmented reality route

Walmart’s mobile app barcode scanner just got a makeover.

Realizing that most shoppers currently use the app’s barcode scanner as a price checker, members of Walmart Labs began evaluating how to improve this technology. The answer was to create an augmented reality (AR)-based scanner that would help customers more time, and possibly money.

Using Apple’s AR platform ARKit, Walmart Labs created an AR barcode scanner that loads products faster, and makes it easier to compare products by more than just price, according to Walmart Labs’ “Tech Blog.”

Here’s how it works: Walmart iOS app users can open the scanner by tapping the barcode icon in the search bar. Once the scanner has loaded, users tap the AR icon in the navigation bar to launch the AR scanner.

The scanner applies “anchor dots” to scanned items. As users pan their phone between previously scanned products, the bottom product tile updates based on which anchor dot the scanner is pointing at. If users look at a row of products, the price of the product located at the center of the screen is updated, and also features product reviews.

The technology is already reducing the time it takes to scan multiple items by an average of 50%, according to said Tim Sears, senior engineering manager, Walmart Labs.

“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,” said Sears. “We have a big vision for the future of scanning with augmented reality, and we’re excited to be taking this first step towards many exciting things to come.”

The AR Scanner, which is available on an opt-in basis, is currently available for the iPhone 6s and newer devices.

This is not Walmart’s first try at AR technology. In June, the discount giant began testing a 3D virtual shopping tour, a service that enables customers to virtually browse a curated apartment. The service features nearly 70 items from both national brands and Walmart’s private label offerings.

The new solution coincided with Walmart’s new digital home furnishings shopping experience — one of many elements featured on Walmart’s redesigned website, which was introduced in February.
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