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eBay AR
A real item is shown inside a virtual box using the eBay app. (eBay Image)

We’ve been waiting for a big tech company to think outside the box when it comes to the best fit for what’s inside the box.

The online marketplace eBay announced today that it is using augmented reality to help users select the proper United States Postal Service flat-rate box for items that need to be shipped.

The AR technology, built on Google’s ARCore platform, is an Android feature and can be accessed via the eBay app. Using motion tracking and environmental understanding, users can virtually place a box over a real-world item and move the box around to get a complete view of the fit for what’s about to be shipped.

The development is aimed at saving sellers time by helping them pick the right box quickly and providing a real-time calculation of shipping costs.

eBay AR
(eBay Images)

“This technology is just one example of the types of innovation we’re working on to transform eBay,” James Meeks, eBay’s head of Mobile, said in a statement. “It demonstrates our continual innovation on behalf our sellers to help them save time and remove barriers.”

The company credits employees at eBay Hack Week with creating an early version of the new feature. That company-wide event is meant to challenge technologists and get them to reimagine the e-commerce experience. eBay’s mobile team was also working on an idea which involved displaying a box around an item to indicate that it had shipped.

The two teams shared project details and the mobile team developed the tech and worked with Google to make it a reality. Or, augmented reality.

eBay AR
(eBay Images)

For anyone who has received a package in the mail  — especially from another certain large e-commerce company — it’s a hopeful development, especially considering the waste generated by oversized cardboard boxes used to ship tiny items.

In other e-commerce news, Google is teaming with some large retailers to turn product searches into profits.

Reuters reported that Google is creating a new program in which retailers such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Costco and Ulta Beauty can list their products on Google Search, as well as on the Google Express shopping service, and Google Assistant on mobile phones and voice devices.

In exchange for Google listings and linking to retailer loyalty programs, Reuters said that the retailers will pay Google a piece of each purchase. The listings will appear under sponsored shopping results and will not affect regular search results on Google, the company said.

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