Google moves into augmented reality shopping with BMW, Gap

Google is rolling out a real world application for its most ambitious virtual reality effort: letting shoppers see what they might buy without leaving home. The Alphabet Inc. unit on Wednesday introduced two new retail partnerships, with BMW and Gap Inc., deploying its 3D-scanning project called Tango. The technology uses cameras and sensors in mobile devices to overlay digital images in physical space - akin to the hit mobile game Pokemon Go. The retail deals announced at the consumer technology show CES in Las Vegas hint at Google’s broader ambition to merge its mapping capabilities with its core business of facilitating commerce. As virtual and augmented reality technology rapidly improves, analysts predict the retail industry may be one the biggest beneficiaries. IDC estimates the market for the technologies will explode from about $5.2 billion in 2015 to $162 billion in 2020. Car dealerships will be “one of the longer-term, more profitable use cases,” said IDC analyst Chris Chute, as automakers look for way to reach customers who are increasingly less likely to enter traditional outlets. (Elisabeth Behrmann and Mark Bergen/Bloomberg)

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