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(Reuters) - Walmart Stores Inc (WMT.N) has significantly increased the selection of toys in its stores and online for the holiday season, a company executive said on Thursday, and is expanding its toy aisles in certain markets, all to lure shoppers after rival seller Toys R Us went out of business earlier this summer. The world’s largest retailer will also begin its layaway program on Friday, one day earlier than last year, allowing customers to pay off purchases in installments. The company expects demand for its layaway program to be similar to that of previous years, said Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys, while at an event in New York to reveal the retailer’s top toys for the holidays. Layaway plans can have a sizeable impact on sales and past analyst estimates suggest the program accounted for as much as 15 percent of holiday revenue at Walmart stores in poorer areas of the United States.

Walmart added 30 percent more new toys to its stores and expanded its online selection by 40 percent, including some toys that are exclusive to the retailer, such as the DC Comics swarovski crystal dark gray pearl cufflinks Justice League Batmobile, Kehoe said Walmart will monitor its inventory closely as it approaches the holiday season, as insufficient online inventory of certain everyday items hurt sales last year, The retailer also plans more than 2,000 in-store demos of toys, “a lot more” than last year, to let kids play with the items before parents decide to buy, Kehoe said..

Walmart’s efforts may help its toys better compete in the holiday season against video games or streaming platforms like YouTube. It also hopes to fend off online retailer Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), which is rumored to be printing a toy catalog for the first time this year, according to media reports. Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Kehoe said Walmart is focused on serving its customers, and “we’ve always had a toy catalog and will continue to have one.”.

(The story has been refiled to correct spelling of Microsoft HoloLens in final paragraph.), By Stephen Nellis, (Reuters) - Apple Inc has acquired a startup focused on making lenses for augmented reality glasses, the company confirmed on Wednesday, a signal Apple has ambitions to make a wearable device that would superimpose digital information on the real world, Apple confirmed it acquired Longmont, Colorado-based Akonia Holographics, “Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and swarovski crystal dark gray pearl cufflinks we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans,” the iPhone maker said in a statement..

Akonia could not immediately be reached for comment. The company was founded in 2012 by a group of holography scientists and had originally focused on holographic data storage before shifting its efforts to creating displays for augmented reality glasses, according to its website. In augmented reality, digital information is overlaid on the real world as in the popular game Pokemon Go. Mobile phones use their camera system to do this on the phone’s screen, but major technology firms are racing to create glasses that will show digital information on transparent lenses.

Akonia said its display technology allows for “thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images.” The firm has a portfolio of more than 200 patents related to holographic systems and materials, according to its website, Akonia also said it raised $11.6 million in seed funding in 2012 and was seeking additional funding, It was unclear whether that funding ever materialized or who the firm’s investors were, The purchase price and date of the acquisition could not be learned, though one executive in the augmented swarovski crystal dark gray pearl cufflinks reality industry said the Akonia team had become “very quiet” over the past six months, implying that the deal may have happened in the first half of 2018..

Apple has a history of buying smaller companies whose technologies show up years later in its products. In 2013, Apple acquired a small Israeli firm called PrimeSense that made three-dimensional sensors. The iPhone X, launched last year, used a similar sensor to power facial recognition features. Bloomberg last year reported that Apple was developing augmented reality glasses that could ship as early as 2020. Apple declined to comment on its plans or products. But the company last year launched augmented reality applications for its iPhones and iPads, and CEO Tim Cook has called augmented reality a “big and profound” technology development.

“This is one of those huge things that we’ll look back at and marvel on the start of it,” Cook said of augmented reality on a conference call with investors last year, The Akonia acquisition is the first clear indication of how Apple might handle one of the most daunting challenges in augmented reality hardware: Producing crystal clear optical displays thin and light enough to fit into glasses similar to everyday frames with images bright enough for outdoor use and suited to mass manufacturing at a relatively swarovski crystal dark gray pearl cufflinks low price..

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