Pinterest, a social media platform and imageboard built around discovery and inspiration, is continuing its shift into e-commerce with a new augmented reality feature designed to simulate the in-store shopping experience.
Augmented reality, or AR, uses digital information to overlay or "augment" the physical world through a camera. The applications are boundless, but product brands, in particular, are piqued.
Pinterest is looking to facilitate that adoption on its popular pinboard, which has long inspired users to seek out the items so lovingly displayed on its platform.
"People have always come to Pinterest to shop," Jeremy King, senior vice president of engineering at Pinterest and former CTO of Walmart, told Cheddar. "Once you find that particular item that inspires you, many people want to know where to get it, how to build it, how to cook it."
In early 2020, the San Francisco-based company launched a "Try On" tool for lipstick products that allowed users to see themselves in different shades. Now it's expanding that feature to include eyeshadows from brands such as NYX Cosmetics, YSL, Lancôme, and Urban Decay.
Images of eligible products will include a "try on" button in their bottom right corner.
While, for the moment, the feature is limited to a very select number of items, King said Pinterest is refining the technology to include more users and more products.
For instance, the platform is tapping into its vast database of faces, so that different skin tones, angles, and lighting conditions are captured accurately through its AR tool. The goal is to build a system that detects every item presented on Pinterest and give users the opportunity to look up and purchase that item. King called this pipeline "inspiration to action."
The coronavirus pandemic has also brought more and different types of potential customers to the platform, which draws nearly half a billion users per month.
"The biggest categories right now are Gen Z and men," King said. "Gen Z is actually growing at twice the rate of our other categories."