Even when you're armed with precise measurements, trying to imagine exactly how that stunning new sofa will look in your living room is not an easy task. It will therefore come as no surprise that leading retailer IKEA has found that 14 percent of its customers end up taking home furniture which turns out to be the wrong size for its intended location. Thanks to augmented reality, customers of the Swedish home furnishings giant can now try out select products in their homes with the help of a printed catalog, a mobile app and a smartphone or tablet.
To use the new service, customers will need to download the free 2014 IKEA Catalog App for iOS or Android. After launching the app, a smartphone or tablet camera is used to zone in on an orange cross to the bottom right of selected product pages.
An icon will appear on the device display, which gives users access to the AR mode. The app then instructs the user to close the printed version of the catalog and place it in the spot where the customer intends to put the new furniture. The approximate dimensions of the virtual furniture are based on the size of this physical, real-world IKEA catalog.
The camera wakes up again and a product outline appears in the frame. This can be rotated, repositioned and manipulated so that it looks just right, before confirming the selection from a scrollable list. Finally, a virtual version of the new sofa, desk or bookcase with the room in the background is shown onscreen.
As well as the serious business of room design, users can also have some fun with the system (as you can see in the image above). IKEA has also treated over 50 pages of the new catalog to enhanced content, giving mobile device users access to additional product information, 360-degree room views, and videos.
The video below shows the kind of things you can get up to with the new catalog and app.