• Mary Burritt

Ikea to release AR app

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. - Ikea said today its new augmented reality app for iPhones will be available for free in the Apple store later this month. The new app requires the iOS11, which Apple said today will be released Sept. 19.

Named Ikea Place, the app automatically scales product images based on a room's dimensions, which the app can assess with 98% accuracy, the company claims. No more plunking a catalog onto the floor as a marker. 

"The AR technology is so precise that you will be able to see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on your furnishings," according to a release.

Shoppers first photograph the room they're shopping for, then browse and select from the items in the app. The image of the item can then be placed and moved around in the photo. The app also allows users to capture the setting they've created with the product image in it and share it to social media, as a 2D image or a video.

All sofas, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and best-selling, floor-based storage items will comprise the 2,000 Ikea products available for viewing in the app. Ikea listed 4,818 items in its 2018 catalog.

Augmented Reality (AR) requires a 3D rendering of an item in order to project it onto a view of setting. 3D images are comprised of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of polygons, which makes them relatively complicated and expensive to create.

As AR becomes simpler and cheaper for retailers to deploy, and more accessible and even expected by consumers, the technology is expected to change furniture retailing by allowing shoppers to accurately preview an item in the space they're buying for.

Ikea built the AR iPhone app using ARKit, Apple's software development kit for its operating system. Earlier this year Google released ARCore, its software development kit for Androids that will enable, among other capabilities, AR. Ikea said it is developing an AR app using ARCore but did not give a release date.

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