The concept of augmented reality (AR) has been around for some time now, but really became broadly known and understood late in 2017. AR uses the environments around us and simply places animated elements inside them. It’s something we can now do with our smartphones, thanks largely to Apple and Google having adopted development platforms that make AR apps feasible.
The days of AR still mostly being associated with games and entertainment are drawing to an end. Such industries as automotive, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and more are already benefiting from AR capabilities. There have been some great adoptions of AR in the property and interior sectors too, as augmented reality developers are exercising their skills to create a diverse range of apps.
The Ikea app
When AR first came out last year, interior design immediately became a focal point. This is thanks largely to IKEA, which was ready with its own brand new app just about the moment AR apps were available. The app allows you to browse through furniture and then visualise it in your home by aiming your camera at a given space and seeing the selected furniture in that space.
There are other apps that perform very similar functions, and still others that are designed to make it easier to measure your space. Now, simply by aiming your phone at different edges, corners, etc., you can accurately measure your home without every touching a ruler or tape measure, which isn’t quite as fun as browsing furniture as if it’s in your home, but can be just as useful.
Apps like ‘IKEA Place’ take the guesswork out of furniture shopping. They allow you to “try on” different furniture options in your own home before making a commitment. Michael Valdsgaard, Senior VP of Digital Development at Inter IKEA Systems, says “We found through our research that some customers weren’t confident about buying, so this aimed at making that experience easier for them”.
The Benefits of AR
Home or commercial interior designer can use AR applications to experiment with design elements and define how finished rooms will look, before committing to choices in floor and wall coverings, furnishing, and fixtures.
With 3D virtual walkthroughs are possible, unvisited no longer needs to mean unseen, so purchasers can make faster, more confident choices as they navigate the real estate customer journey.
Prospective buyers can save time and expense by completing highly realistic, AR-driven virtual property inspections, during which they can change the viewing aspect and move around the visualisation at will. This is already possible to some degree on real estate websites offering 3D virtual tours, but augmented reality makes the process more authentic—and accessible.
AR also makes it easier for buyers to share their visualisations with friends, family, or colleagues. After all, what could be easier than laying a real estate photo down on a flat surface and handing others your phone for a quick 3D tour?
Early AR Adopters Seem Confident in ROI
While the potential benefits of augmented reality in interior design and real estate may still be somewhat speculative at this time, there is no denying the interest and investment it is receiving. While the very mention of AR tends to conjure images of complex 3D digital animations springing up from the kitchen table, one of the most professional interior design AR apps currently available performs a far less grand, yet nonetheless vital function.
Right now, it seems like augmented reality has just found its place in residential design through furniture retailers, but I can’t help but wonder if commercial furniture firms will follow suite. If so, this could be a great tool for commercial Interior Designers to show clients real life, 360 degree views of proposed designs. It’s fun, interactive, and offers a level of visualisation that some people just can’t envision on their own.