Walmart supports moving student designs into viable products

Augmented Reality (AR)—a view of the real world supplemented by computer- generated sensory input—represents a huge and growing market. With applications that include Snapchat Geofilters and Pokemon Go, AR already rules the gaming domain.

But can AR transcend entertainment to transform the realms of business and commerce? That’s the question Walmart’s Emerging Technologies division set out to answer through a partnership that mobilized the ultimate innovation tool: UC Berkeley entrepreneurs-in- training. Over an intense 24-hour period, 30 MBA students and 70 engineering students recruited by the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program and the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association gathered for an Augmented Reality hackathon.

Student teams used tools and gadgets from Google Tango and Intel to prototype AR tools addressing real-world cases posed by Walmart. Attracted by a $5,000 innovation fellowship and $5,000 in additional cash prizes, hackers worked ’round the clock, developing everything from in-store assistants and product finders to internal apps, including a guided shelf-stocking solution. Walmart will continue to guide the fellowship- winning team as students turn their design hack – a product-construction assistant that guides customers in assembling bikes, furniture, and other items—into a minimum viable product.