Over five million art prints, paintings, and photographs sold on Etsy have a new sidekick to make it easier to see how they’ll fit in your home.
Just launched in June 2020, the augmented reality update to the Etsy app lets you visualize how a piece of art would look if it were actually hanging in your home. All you have to do is point your phone at the wall.
As long as an item is categorized under Paintings, Photography, or Prints, it should work with the AR feature — so for the most part, you can search for art as you normally would. You’ll be prompted to scan the wall in question as well as the ceiling and floor to give the app an idea of room dimensions. Once the print pops up, you can tap to move it around and preview different sizes. (If the print shows up crooked or at an angle, try taking a few steps back and re-scanning.)
Though it’s not the first company to do so, Etsy’s AR debut is particularly timely. When the COVID-19 pandemic closed stores across the country, online shopping became a lifeline (er, more of a lifeline that it already was.) And with social distancing restrictions forcing many to spend more time at home, people naturally looked to beautify the only scenery they’ve had for the past few months: their walls. Sure, buying a canvas painting isn’t as risky as buying a whole couch — but for folks who have been putting off filling that empty wall space because they didn’t know what would look good, this Etsy update could be a game changer.
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The pandemic also ignited interest in supporting small businesses. With over two million sellers, Etsy is one of the biggest online platforms for small businesses and artists. For buyers who were used to storming HomeGoods and seeing potential decor IRL, the ability to get a 3D preview of an Etsy item beforehand could make buying from small online businesses feel much more accessible.
“At Etsy, supporting small businesses is at the heart of everything we do,” Etsy’s Chief Product Officer, Kruti Patel Goyal, told us. “Our continued investment in new technologies like augmented reality is helping to ensure that we’re well-positioned to connect buyers and sellers through the most challenging times. And because our listings are handmade or vintage, they’re often one-of-a-kind, so the more that we can do to help buyers visualize items before they check out, the better for our sellers.”
The Etsy update is currently in beta mode and only available on iOS and iPadOS. Etsy hopes to expand to Android if all goes well, and you might just see AR functionality in categories outside of wall art down the road.
How AR is changing the way we shop for our homes
The intersection of augmented reality and shopping is a budding solution to a major cause of : ordering something just to have it show up and look nothing like what you pictured. Companies like and have already added some sort of AR functionality to their apps, which are clutch when considering a big purchase (that’s a pain to return) like furniture or rugs. AR also comes in handy when there are no review photos from customers who made the purchase before you did.
In the wake of store closings brought on by social distancing, brick and mortar shops that were previously an in-person only experience are moving to the virtual world. Tanger Outlets stans can now shop at (and use those outlets gift cards.)
Eyewear brands like Warby Parker and Bollé have also embraced AR technology to let users try on glasses virtually, and we anticipate that more and more will continue to join their ranks.