Tech

IKEA’s fancy new AR app lets you design entire rooms

It was in September 2017 when Apple made IKEA a launch partner for its ARKit in the iOS 11 keynote, and all of a sudden the staunchly analogue furniture brand was at the vanguard of retail tech. The IKEA Place app let you put digital furniture anywhere.

Just a few months earlier, Tim Cook said in an interview that he was so excited about augmented reality that he wanted “to yell out and scream”. He name-checked IKEA and cited buying furniture as a prime example of something that can be completely changed by AR.

We know what happened next. People started putting virtual Ektorp sofas on real railway platforms and digital Billy bookcases in elevators for the sheer hell of it. Part of the reason for this was the genuine novelty of a consumer AR shopping app, but also that you could not shop using it. If you liked something you had to close the app, then open up the IKEA app or website to buy it.

IKEA

Now AR apps are less of a curiosity and, while not exactly commonplace, are at least familiar. From gaming to tattoo selection to selling watches or lipstick, there are a bunch doing things very similar to what IKEA started with four years ago.

This is likely the reason for the furniture company to commission its Copenhagen-based future-living lab, SPACE10, to revamp its AR offering. The result is IKEA Studio.

Moving on from just adding virtual chairs and lamps to a room, SPACE10 says the goal here for IKEA is to help people design entire rooms using the LiDAR sensors in an iPhone. That’s right, this is still an Apple-only project for IKEA.

Starting in open beta, SPACE10 ideally wants users to help hone the final offering of Studio, but for now it lets you capture complete 3D room plans with measurements, including windows and doorways, and it detects your existing furniture and places white boxes on the plan where your current chairs, tables, sofa reside.

From there you can place furniture, shelving systems, decorations and change wall colours, then export your design in both 3D and 2D and send it to others for approval or ridicule. The models can also include ceilings so you can add in virtual suspended light fittings. Other new features include being able to interact with items, such as turn AR lamps on and off, and place items on top of each other, say a lamp on a sideboard for example.

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