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Brief Published: 7 Aug 2013

Ikea Launches AR Catalogue + App


Swedish homeware retailer Ikea has created an augmented reality (AR) mobile app that allows customers to virtually experiment with how its products will fit into their homes. The app works in tandem with Ikea’s new UK print catalogue to help visualise an item’s colour, style and size in-situ – addressing Ikea’s findings that 14% of its customers say they’ve previously bought the wrong-sized furniture for their homes.

Launching on the Apple App Store and Google Play on August 25, the 2014 Ikea catalogue app will enable customers to visualise 90 products (largely furniture pieces) in their own homes.

To use the app, consumers place the physical Ikea catalogue in the space where they want to test a product. The app detects the book through the consumer’s mobile phone camera and displays the selected product on-screen in its place (the app judges the approximate scale of the furnishings by measuring the size of the catalogue itself laid on the floor). Ikea hopes that the ability to test multiple items will trigger a major reduction in product returns (see Virtual Fitting Rooms for how this has been achieved in the fashion industry).

The initiative is another demonstration of how AR is fast transcending its previous reputation in some sectors as something of a marketing gimmick. “Offering a way of using mobile technology to enable customers to test products means the technology has a practical purpose and really helps them visualise the way their homes could look,” explained Peter Wright, marketing manager of Ikea UK & Ireland.

The app will also deliver additional product information, videos and alternative views of products, which users can access by scanning pages from the catalogue’s print version.

It follows the news that UK-based retailer Argos’ latest catalogue has been enhanced with AR, as well as the Try-Before-You-Buy AR App by French tech start-up Augment.

For more on this topic see Virtual Decorating: Interior Design in the Next Dimension.