IKEA, not content with being king of the flat pack furniture market, has moved in the Augmented Reality business. Now you can view the furniture of your choice in the location of your choice with the help of its AR app.
Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling when you realize the sofa you have just bought is completely wrong for your living room? If so IKEA's latest app will be of interest and give you some idea of what can be achieved with AR.
It is one of those apps that makes you think "why didn't I have that idea first?". And if you remember back to the early days of 3D rendering software, when home design software allowed you to build and furnish your dream home and view it from any angle, you'll realize it's not a completely novel idea, just one that can be given a make-over with mobile AR.
IKEA has had its catalog available as a free app for the past couple of years - the first Android version was in 2011 - and virtual reality furniture placement is the new feature of the 2014 Catalog, which is already available in the US and is being released during August in over 40 other countries for both iOS and Android.
Although the app includes the catalog in browseable form, to make this feature work you also need to have the paper version. As the video below shows the idea is to use the "real" IKEA catalog to pinpoint the site for the item and the app uses it to scale the image of the furniture to the correct size.
There are various negative comments on both Google Play and iTunes suggesting that the initial version of the 2014 IKEA Catalog app was prone to crash but there has already been a bug fix and optimization release that also adds support for Arabic and Hebrew, addressing one of the specific complaints.
Even if many of the app users consider the furniture placement app as an unwanted gimmick, it is good to see augmented reality finding practical uses and where IKEA leads others may follow. It might be an obvious use of AR, but it is one that is difficult to get right.