Home furnishings giant launches augmented reality design app

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Home furnishings giant launches augmented reality design app

By Deena M. Amato-McCoy - 09/13/2017

Ikea is allowing its shoppers to virtually test drive merchandise before making a purchase.

The home furnishings giant is preparing to launch a new augmented reality (AR) app. Called Ikea Place, the app allows customers to virtually place furniture in any space in their home, office, school or studio — and share the images.

The app, which will be supported by Apple’s iOS 11 platform, will launch in late September.

Here’s how it works: After downloading the app, users scan the floor of the room they want to decorate. Customers can access a list of products directly through the app, and select a product to stage.

Merchandise is presented as 3D images. Using their finger, they can move and place the product into their virtual room. The app automatically scales furniture with 98% accuracy. The AR technology also highlights fabric textures, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on furnishings.

Users can also use the app to share images of their virtually staged choices with friends. Purchases can be made through their local Ikea website, according to the company.

More than 2,000 items will be available when the app launches. The first release will focus on larger furniture products for the living room, including the company’s full assortment of sofas, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and top-selling storage solutions.

In the future, the app will play a key role in the launch of new product lines, according to Ikea.

“Ikea Place makes it easier to make buying decisions in your own place, to get inspired and try many different products, styles and colors in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger,” said Michael Valdsgaard, leader digital transformation at Inter Ikea systems. “Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster.”

The app will be available in Apple’s App store.

The service competes directly with options already available through its rivals. For example, Wayfair’s WayfairView app enables shoppers to see virtual furniture and décor in their homes at full scale before they make a purchase.

Meanwhile, Ashley Furniture was preparing to launch its own virtual reality (VR) and AR initiatives this year. First, the retailer planned to launch an AR shopping app, which will help shoppers see how home furnishings fit into an existing space. It will also feature in-store virtual reality tech bars that will combine a guided iPad-based space configuration experience with VR headset visualization — a move that will allow shoppers to design and visualize their bedrooms, dining rooms or living rooms.