🗣 It’s been a while now since the world began discovering the benefits of augmented reality (AR) for more than just smartphone games. In the last couple of years, we’ve discovered the potential of augmented tools for everything from wayfinding and learning, to improving workplace productivity.
One of the biggest trends to emerge because of the AR revolution is the rise of the AR retail app. IKEA, one of the biggest names in affordable furniture, was among the first innovators to take advantage of environments like Google’s ARCore system to create its own AR app.
Launching in 2017, the app promised customers an easier way to shop for the products they wanted, and even see how those items would look in their homes. If you love IKEA, but you hate trying to find your way around the maze-like aisles every time you want to pick up a new stool, this could be the app for you!
What is the IKEA Place app?
🗣 IKEA Place was one of the first trailblazing apps to show the world what retailers could accomplish with augmented reality. The technology allows you to essentially place items from the IKEA catalog in your home, to see what they’re going to look like.
IKEA Place provides a constantly updating collection of items to explore, so you can place chairs, desks, and anything else you might want in your home, and plan your decorating strategy more effectively. According to the team, the Place app was conceived to give customers the opportunity to “try before they buy” in a virtual environment.
All the items in the catalog scale dynamically, so you can see exactly what an armchair is going to look like when placed in the nook at the side of your bed, or how well a wardrobe might fit into your new bedroom. The system claims to deliver around 98% accuracy in terms of scale.
The updated version of the app even includes “visual search”, which allows customers to take pictures of furniture they like, then upload those to the app to find similar products.
The company has been working for years in 3D catalogs behind the scenes and offers customers unique experiences with 3D visualization in-store when they want to build their own kitchen or fitted wardrobes.
The tech behind the app
🗣 IKEA already lets you preview furniture in your home via AR, but its latest AI-powered iOS app offers a big leap in capability. Called IKEA Kreativ, it can scan your rooms using LiDAR and build a complete 3D replica of them, then let you delete your existing furniture. From there, you can try out new IKEA couches, tables, etc., and get a much better idea of how they’ll look in your home.
The scanning is done via something IKEA calls the Kreativ Scene Scanner, which uses LiDAR if it’s available on your iPhone. It also works on iPhones or iPads without LiDAR, though having it allows the app to “pull in additional spatial detail,” IKEA told Engadget.
To use it on the web or a mobile device without LiDAR, you simply must input a series of photographs of a room. Those are then “automatically processed and assembled into a wide-angle, interactive replica of the space, with accurate dimensions and perspective,” IKEA said in a press release. From there, you can erase existing furniture and position new IKEA pieces, quickly try alternatives, and fully design the room. All your ideas can be saved for later or shared with others. Naturally, the app also lets you add preferred pieces to your shopping cart.
The app is the latest high-tech move by IKEA, which has launched a raft of connected speakers, smart home hubs, connected lights, charging pads, and more over the last few years. On top of that, IKEA joined a new group created by Microsoft, Meta, and others to create metaverse standards — so, you might be able to at least find furniture in virtual reality.
IKEA Place app: The Benefits
🗣 IKEA Place quickly earned a name for itself among app fans, becoming one of the most popular free apps built with Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore during the first year of its release.
Over the years, IKEA has upgraded the AR experience for its customers, adding more immersive reality experiences, like the ability to search for product ideas using an initial item as inspiration. Overall, the biggest benefit of the app is it makes shopping with IKEA much easier. You can quickly and conveniently scan the floor of a room, browse a list of products available on an app, and see how that item will look in your home in seconds.
Other benefits include:
👉 Ease of use: Everything is extremely straightforward on the IKEA Place app. There’s an onboarding process when you load the app for the first time, to teach you how to use the technology correctly. You also get little messages and tips from the app as you work, helping you to take better pictures of your space, and upload more effective shots for inspiration.
👉 Comprehensive catalog: When you tap the plus button at the bottom of your smartphone screen, you’ll see the extensive IKEA catalog, where you can simply tap on an item to place it in your room. There’s a few “getting started” items available if you need help seeing how everything works. Plus, if you already know what you want to shop for, you can easily search for an item by tapping the search bar in the top right of the app. There aren’t as many filters as you’d get on the actual IKEA website, but it’s still a helpful touch.
👉 Accurate scanning: AR apps aren’t always as smooth and immersive as we’d like. However, IKEA Place seems to do very well in terms of item replication and placement. It can take a couple of minutes to scan your room correctly, but once you’ve done that, it’s relatively easy to place items around your space. The scale of the item also automatically changes as you move it, which is excellent for getting a more realistic look at what you can expect.
👉 Easier shopping experiences: With IKEA Place, you can place multiple items into a room with the same team and see how they all interact together. You’ll then be able to tap the menu in the top right of the screen and use “save place” to save the items you want to buy later. You can go back into your Saved places later, to check up on the details of the furniture you wanted or add different items into the mix.
👉 Find the products you really want: As mentioned above, you can now upload pictures of furniture to the IKEA Place app, and the tech will automatically scan for similar items in the catalog, to help you find the products you’re more likely to love. You can also hit the “like” button next to items and add them to your profile, so you can find your shopping list in a couple of taps next time you actually visit IKEA.
🗣 Ultimately, IKEA Place gives shoppers a straightforward and streamlined experience of shopping with the benefits of AR. This was one of the first retail apps provided by a company that offered an insight into the “try before you buy” mentality of digital shopping.
Since then, we’ve seen countless other furniture stores deliver apps like this one. If you’re a fan of shopping at IKEA and want to make it easier – it’s worth getting the IKEA Place app.
And, if you’re looking for further inspiration, IKEA also unveiled 50 new 3D showrooms. They let you browse the IKEA catalog virtually and try out products in 3D settings, “quickly swapping, moving, rotating, stacking and hanging IKEA products,” the company said.
We’ve said it before and we say it now, AR is definitely revolutionizing the retail industry. What are you waiting to hop on the tech train? Check out here the solutions we have for your business!