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Established at the end of 2015, Wayfair NextResearch and Development Laboratory is located at thecompany’s Boston headquarters. Born out of Wayfair's hackathon program, Wayfair Next aims toenhance the online customers' shopping experience by improving the visualization of products in context(i.e., in the customer's own living space). In practice, this means figuring out ways to use artificialintelligenceto automatically identify physical objects ("Do we sell a couch that looks like the couch ourcustomer just captured in our mobile app?"), or to use augmented reality(AR) to place virtualrepresentations of physical objects "into" a living room. In addition, Wayfair Next experiments with waysto enhance internal operations by easing the burden of transporting and maneuvering (at times large)physical objects. One example is digitally capturing 3-D images of each product, which in turn are usedfor augmented reality and virtual reality(VR) customer experiences. With a traditional photo-shootCreated in support of learning objectives for MISM2301, Spring 2018 (md) and modified Spring 2020 (pdl)Page 1 of 41
Wayfair (continued)costing about $1,000, Wayfair Next had a strong incentive to explore novel 3D scanning techniques todigitize the firm's vast catalog.Wayfair – Considering Developing Software to Replace Currently Licensed SoftwareWhen faced with a new problem that requires the acquisition of new software capabilities, Wayfairengineers like to “build it” themselves. However, in some cases existing solutions are advanced enoughto satisfy the functional requirements of a particular business need. One example of this is the Unityvideo game engine and augmented/virtual reality platform. Unitycomes highly regarded. Global gamersdownloading Unity-made games reached 2.4 billion unique mobile devices in 2017, and Unity customersinclude Disney, Electronic Arts, LEGO, Microsoft, and NASA.Despite Unity’s leading-edge augmented reality and virtual reality generation capabilities, Wayfair is stillconsidering “one day” planning and executing a large-scale project to custom build their own AR/VRengine. The challenge of producing such an engine would be incredible, not just in terms of matchingUnity’s programming expertise, but also in terms of the project management hurdles that would need tobe overcome. Currently Wayfair employs Scrumwhich is an agile project management methodology orframework used primarily for software development projects with the goal of delivering new softwarecapability every 2-4 weeks. It is one of the approaches that influenced theAgile Manifesto, which