While IKEA is not at its first attempt as far as augmented reality goes, the Swedish company seems to get better and better at this. This year, it was the IKEA catalog that featured AR elements, but next year there will be a mobile app that projects virtual furniture in your living room (or in any other room, for that matter).
Unfortunately, the paper IKEA catalogue will be needed this time, too, because you have to scan its pages to get access to the virtual furniture that comes to life with augmented reality. The bad news is that not all of the catalogue’s pages feature AR content, but only a selected few. Still, I can’t complain, since this is something innovative and I declare myself pleased with this, even it was done at a small scale. It should be noted that the AR app only works with the 2014 IKEA catalogue, which should be out in a couple of months.
The AR IKEA paper catalogue serves yet one more purpose. Including it in the visual field of the camera will help the app determine the dimensions of the room so that the virtual furniture fits to scale. If the paper IKEA catalogue is not available, the size and place of the furniture can also be set manually.
As mentioned before, this is not the first time IKEA tackles augmented reality. Its 2013 paper catalogue featured on-page augmented content. However, next year’s version represents a major step forward. I wish IKEA didn’t stop here, as all this virtual furniture thing is indeed impressive. A Wall Street Journal report from 2012 claims that a quarter of the products depicted in next year’s IKEA catalogue are in fact 3D renders.
The app is available both for Android and iOS. The app would probably work best on tablets running these two mobile operating systems, as this way it gives people a better idea about how the furniture would fit in their home. On the other hand, I’m also curious about how this app would work on Google Glass or on an Android-running Oculus Rift. As you can surely tell on your own, there are quite a few directions IKEA’s venture into AR could go, so we’ll have to wait and see what the Swedish company has in store for us.