Even if you’re knowledgeable about the use of augmented reality in modern society, it might still surprise you to learn the overall scope of industries looking to utilize this new technology in their everyday business practices. One of the most shocking might be the furniture industry. Though giants like Ikea and Wayfair hold a large chunk of the industry and utilize AR themselves, numerous other small companies and upstarts are leveraging this new technology to get a leg up on their competition. But how does AR work for this industry? How does it improve the shopping experience of customers, and just how important will it be for businesses to utilize AR in the future? This article breaks down some of those questions; using real-world businesses and examples from some very exciting AR start-ups.
It just wouldn’t be right to write this article without mention Ikea. The Swedish mega-company has exploded within the past decade; opening a number of stores and locations globally and leading to a staggering climb in revenue. So, how is one of the leaders of the furniture world utilizing AR? Ikea has created the Ikea Place app for both iOS and Android devices. This app allows you to scan your room or an empty area of your home and will show you which Ikea furniture and items will fit in these empty spaces in your home. So, if you’re looking for a homemaker but you’re not sure where to start, you can utilize Ikea Place in order to figure out your blueprint and floor plan before you even need to make a purchase.
While not a completely separate app or software, Amazon itself has also dipped its toes into the waters of AR technology. Using the ‘view in your room’ option, you can use your smartphone’s camera to place selected products inside your room and surroundings in order to see the scale of the product you’re purchasing and how it will look into your home. Additionally, their Room Decorator option allows users to test and visualize multiple products at once, also allowing users to save AR screenshots of the rooms they design for later.
Remember Wayfair from earlier? This company is often called one of the pioneers when it comes to AR shopping and furniture apps. Not only does Wayfair’s app for iOS and Android devices simplify and improve the shopping experience for their customers by streamlining the process, but it also allows them to utilize AR in order to see items in not only a physical space but on the human body as well; using what’s known as ‘environmental occlusion’ to allow for real-time rendering and natural lighting. What this means is your virtual objects cast shadows as if they were real and blend into the area of your home. This allows a more accurate representation of how this will appear in your home. Moreover, you can utilize the Wayfair app to try on clothing and accessory to see how a specific item will fit on you and your body.
Available for iOS and Android devices, Home Depot aims to simplify homemaking for its customers through its app. By using the ‘see it in your home’ option in the Home Depot app, you’re able to view products you’re interested in view 3D models in your room or home. It allows you to visualize everything from the inclusion of furniture, refrigerators, vases, and shelves; as well as other home improvement items. The app is such a success for AR it was named first place in the Forrester Retail Wave top AR apps in 2019.
Another well-known furniture and decor retailer is Overstock. They’re one of the first companies to ever use visual search integration for their Android app and were named as the best retail app for seven years in a row. It is similar to many of the other apps on the list, but its innovation for the industry as well as its continued use in the AR market makes Overstock a great choice for the homemaker looking to utilize AR.
Currently only available on iOS devices, Anthropologie is a woman’s furniture and fashion company that sells furniture, decor, accessories, and clothing. Not only can you fully customize the furniture they offer in the store and choose your own style, fabric, color, and shape; you can also utilize their ‘preview a room’ feature to see how the item will go with the rest of the furniture inside your home. While they’re still working out the kinks and developing AR for the clothing and accessories they also offer, Anthropologie is a company everyone should be on the lookout for in the rise of augmented reality technology.