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11/16/2017

Home furnishings giant to buy 3-D imaging and augmented reality startup

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Williams-Sonoma is buying a San Jose-based startup that specializes in replicating physical home furnishings and decor products in high-quality 3-D imagery that can be used on retail websites and apps.

The retailer on Thursday announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Outward in an all cash deal of $112 million. Williams-Sonoma has been a customer of Outward’s for three years and originally used its technology to allow customers to get a 360-degree view of a piece of furniture on its websites and swap out different color choices, according to Recode.

“We are excited to own and collaborate in the further development of Outward’s technology that enables applications in product visualization, digital room design, and augmented and virtual reality," said Laura Alber, president and CEO of Williams-Sonoma. “Together, we will drive digital innovation to create highly engaging and interactive consumer shopping experience.”'

Home furnishing retailers across the board, from Ikea to Wayfair to Houzz, have been among the early retail adaptors of augmented reality, using it enhance their online shopping experience. In October, Target launched an augmented reality feature for home décor called "See It In Your Space."

Outward will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, and will be managed by Outward’s current leadership team. The company will maintain existing operations under the Outward brand.