The idea that something can be both real and digital at once has fascinated people for years now. However, it wasn’t until recently that this concept became accessible to users through technology such as computers or smartphones, specifically mobile phone reception and GPS tracking. One such example of the “new” way this concept is being utilized is via augmented reality (AR).
Augmented reality has been around for a while, but practical applications have been implemented in everyday use only recently. That includes augmented reality in art, such as showcasing products and services directly into consumers’ homes and business spaces.
Ikea and AR
Ikea, the multinational company that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, has been using augmented reality to help consumers catch a better glimpse of how their products would look like inside their homes. It does this by providing them with an AR app to virtually place its products in their living spaces through the phone’s camera.
The app is specifically designed so it would recognize the room/area where the consumer is standing. A product selected on screen gains size as it gets closer to the camera until ultimately filling up the entire frame when at an optimal distance.
So far, more than 3 million users have installed Ikea’s augmented reality app on their mobile devices after it was first introduced back in early 2017. With the help of this app, which is believed to be 98 percent accurate, Ikea increased its conversion by an astonishing 50 percent.
Ikea’s augmented reality app offers exclusive “place” views for some items available in select stores. Consumers can view these items from different angles by turning their smartphones in every direction.
This means that a well-placed customer will have a better idea of how their product or service looks in three dimensions and in relation to other things within the surrounding space as opposed to two dimensions on a flat-screen device such as an iPad or computer monitor. As is the case with Ikea’s AR app, this type of use for augmented reality appeals more to consumers who hesitate to make an online purchase.
How Designers and Architects Can Benefit from AR
For architects and designers, augmented reality can prove to be a powerful tool for shaping concepts, viewing the final product in real-time, and gaining feedback. The latter will also be quite beneficial for doing business as it will allow them to see what works and implement such findings in the future.
An example would be if an architect were designing a new build that included a certain amount of floor space for retailers. They could create their own AR app and place virtual-sized mannequins in different locations throughout the build to gain feedback from consumers on which areas they prefer and where they would like stores positioned. After each round of testing this method, the design could continue evolving until the best results are achieved or until no further changes need to be made.
As a designer, using AR in your showrooms will allow you to showcase your design ethos in a unique way, which wouldn’t be possible in physical space. You can showcase your furniture and lighting in the space you have designed, view a 3D model of the plot of land you are designing on, and even walk through a digitally rendered version of what your building will look like at night. In this sense, it becomes a fantastic means of marketing your design services to potential clients, with little cost involved.
Practical Applications of AR
AR also allows for more practical applications, which can be incredibly useful for creating physical models from digital designs. It becomes possible to take accurate measurements from real-life objects via AR apps and then, using software such as Onshape, import these measurements into a CAD file to create a physical replica.
This is easier than ever, given that smartphones have their own built-in measuring tools. In this case, AR provides the value of getting accurate measurements on-site without requiring any special equipment or training, along with being able to visualize your design in its real-life context, which is often hard when designing from a flat 2D perspective.
In addition, AR can be incredibly useful in helping users visualize how their design will look in a space they move around in. For example, it becomes possible to overlay furniture designs on top of existing household items while also seeing how that new dining table will fit into certain spaces. This becomes incredibly useful when it comes to rearranging living spaces or even simply adding new furniture.
In conclusion, augmented reality is a valuable tool for both architects and designers, especially when executing plans. It allows them to create the best possible layouts for their projects while also allowing them to receive feedback from customers that can be used in later stages of development. AR apps will always need more people to use them before they become widely accepted within this sector, but it’s clear how significant positive growth can come out of their use.