Home products retailer Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSI) announced this afternoon that they intend to acquire Outward, Inc., the developer of a 3-D imaging and augmented reality platform intended for the home furnishing and decor industries. WSI will reportedly pay $112 million US to acquire the company. The move comes in a furniture retail environment that sees WSI’s competitors increasingly using AR technologies. Target released a “See It In Your Space” component to their website earlier this year, to allow shoppers to visualize furniture placement. Meanwhile, IKEA leveraged iOS 11’s AR features in their released-in-September “IKEA Place” app. WSI says this acquisition will enable them to build
Hollywood, California-based book publisher Quantum Storey announced this week that it has launched the world’s first virtual reality book series for children. Aimed at younger kids, their “Operation YOU” series combines traditional printed books with virtual reality. The books include access to a companion Android and iOS app, as well as Google Cardboard goggles. The first title in the series, which is now available exclusively at Walmart, is entitled “Morning Nightmare.” It confronts the challenges children experience boarding school busses. According to the company, the VR app places children in the book’s environment in the first person, virtually transforming them into the book’s main character.
While the web is perennially rife with speculation about Apple’s plans to develop a hardware device in the AR/VR space, a somewhat under-the-radar story out of Taiwan may shed a bit more light on the company’s plans. As reported by the Nikkei Asian Review, one of Apple’s supply chain partners, MacBook and Watch assembler Quanta Computer, hinted during their most recent earnings conference call that they may be playing a significant role in the development of an augmented reality device. Reportedly, such a device built by Quanta would be released no later than 2019. Although Quanta executives did not state for whom they would be