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Williams-Sonoma buys AR firm to help you shop for home furnishings

It is purchasing Outward for $112 million in cash.
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Rick Wilking / Reuters

Companies that do a lot of retail business online have been exploring AR in order to help customers visualize the items they're planning on buying. In the last few months, Target, IKEA and Amazon have all announced AR initiatives to help customers seee what furniture and other large items might look like in their homes. Now, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is joining that group. Today the retailer announced it was acquiring Outward, Inc., a 3D imaging and AR platform that's aimed primarily at home decor and furnishings, for $112 million in cash.

While Williams-Sonoma may be primarily known as a retailer of kitchen gadgets and wares, the company owns Pottery Barn and West Elm, staples of any mall furniture shopping experience. According to Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer of Williams-Sonoma, Inc, the company plans to use the tech to enable "applications in product visualization, digital room design, and augmented and virtual reality." After the acquisition is complete, Outward will function as a subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma. It will retain its current leadership team.

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