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Video shows 2017 Walmart virtual reality demonstration

January 7, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows how Walmart envisions shopping in the “metaverse.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video was a demonstration of what virtual reality shopping could look like, created for the 2017 SXSW conference by Walmart and Mutual Mobile, a tech consultancy and design studio. But the concept does not reflect the company’s current plans, a Walmart spokesperson said.

THE FACTS: Social media users this week shared a video illustrating a virtual reality shopping experience at Walmart, claiming it showed the company’s vision for the “metaverse” – a 3D virtual environment recently touted by Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.

The video shows an avatar filling up a shopping cart. In the clip, when the avatar touches an item, information on the product is listed on the screen and a Walmart employee provides additional tips and information.

“Walmart shopping in the metaverse,” wrote one Instagram user who shared the video.

The video received millions of views on social media. Some users mocked the video’s visuals for appearing outdated.

But the video is not new and does not show Walmart’s current plans. It was created five years ago for SXSW, a tech conference in Austin, Texas.

“In 2017, one of our agencies created a Virtual Reality shopping concept video to imagine one possibility of shopping in the future through emerging technology, like VR,” said Robyn Babbitt, director of corporate communications at Walmart. “Again, given that concept is nearly five years old, it does not reflect our current research and exploration of the role emerging technologies may play in our shopping experience in the future.”

This video was intended to impress attendees at the event, according to Mutual Mobile.

“Now, almost five years later, in the Metaverse era of today, our concept demo holds its own as a pioneering vision of what a VR shopping experience could look like,” Vamsi Thota, digital marketing strategist at Mutual Mobile, told the AP in an email.

The “metaverse” is envisioned as an immersive online world where people can play games and interact with one another as avatars in a series of interconnected virtual communities. Advocates say people will be able to shop, try and buy digital clothes, and attend virtual concerts, the AP reported.

While the term dates back to 1992, Zuckerberg announced in October that Facebook would change its name to Meta Platforms Inc, along with plans to transition into a “metaverse company.”

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.