Augmented Reality? Now It’s a Reality with eBay’s New Shipping Tool

Hear from the product manager who created a new augmented reality feature that helps find the right box to ship items sold on eBay.

Congratulations, you just sold your item on eBay! As you bask in the satisfaction of a successful sale—and some extra cash—you come to the realization that now this item needs to be shipped. You don’t have a ruler, and you don’t have a box yet, so you’re left staring at your item as the countdown to your 'ship by' date looms.

But what if you could try on virtual boxes and find just the right one to ship your item? eBay’s new shipping tool makes finding that perfect box as simple as holding up your phone. Today, we’re launching a tool that uses augmented reality (AR) to fix real-world problems—letting you hold your phone over a real item and try on virtual boxes.

To try this, enter the Selling section of the mobile app and look for ‘Which box?’. You’ll be guided through a few steps to begin, like finding a non-reflective surface (think a wood tabletop). Then, move your phone around while pointing where you’ll eventually place the item.


Once you’ve identified the right surface, place your item on it and begin trying on virtual boxes to see which one fits before making your shipping selection. Tap where you want to place the box, use two fingers to rotate and try on different sizes. You can even move around and inspect your item to find the right fit (don’t forget room for padding). Try looking from the top, the front, the sides, and anything in between.

You can immediately see if your item sticks out the top or the side and pick another box. Now, you’re ready to buy the right box to ship your item. And that feeling of completing a sale is all-around sweet again.

The idea for this feature sparked at our annual companywide Hack Week last July. To create this AR feature, we’re using a few key technologies, built on Google's ARCore platform. To understand your phone’s position in the real world, we use concurrent odometry and mapping, as well as sensors for movement and orientation to determine and synchronize your real and virtual world perspectives.

We use feature points to be aware of the environment and create planes and surfaces in AR to represent the real world. When you place a box, we anchor it to the world, and this allows you to move around your item while the virtual box maintains its size and position.

This is just one of the many new AR experiences we are creating this year to make shopping and selling on eBay easier. Our new AR shipping tool is currently available in the U.S. on Android devices that support ARCore.



Thai Hai Pham is a Product Manager who focuses on Spatial Computing at eBay. He’s also a self-proclaimed DIY extraordinaire and a tinkerer, chasing elegant and simple solutions to complex problems.