IKEA shares plans for virtual furniture shopping using Apple’s ARKit


IKEA has shared its plans for enabling virtual furniture shopping by utilizing Apple’s new augmented reality focused API, ARKit. During an interview with Digital.di Michael Valdsgaard, director at IKEA, explained that the new app will be released this fall with iOS 11 and allow users to make purchases from within the app.

Michael Valdsgaard said that the new app will have a Swedish name, and launch with 500 to 600 products. New products launched in the future will be first released in the app. The app will have a new interactive experience which will make it easier for users to place products in the augmented reality space around them. Regarding Apple and ARKit, the interview says:

Apple, according to the Ikea boss, has recently made significant advances in AR, including the size and lighting of virtual objects. The positioning is now millimeter precise, he says.

Buyers might not be able to make purchases in the app in its first release but the feature is planned and expected to be part of the app sooner or later.

Apple had announced their partnership with IKEA during their WWDC keynote when they announced ARKit for iOS 11. Tim Cook also referred to the partnership in his interview with Bloomberg.

We’ve talked to IKEA, and they have 3D images of their furniture line. You’re talking about changing the whole experience of how you shop for, in this case, furniture and other objects that you can place around the home. You can take that idea and begin to think this is something that stretches from enterprise to consumer. There’s not a lot of things that do that.

IKEA ARKit
Image credit: Digital.di

Ever since the announcement of iOS 11 and ARKit at WWDC 2017, Apple and the development community have been moving ahead full throttle. Developers have already begun to experiment with ARKit and create different demos that showcase the potential of the API. The Verge has an article rounding up different ARKit based demos. Millions of iPhones and iPads will be updated to iOS 11 this fall, making iOS one of the biggest platforms for augmented reality experiences. Even Michael Valdsgaard agreed to this in his interview.

It will be the largest AR platform in the world overnight. It’s superintensive to us.

This is not IKEA’s first foray into augmented reality. The IKEA catalog app, first released in 2013 for iOS and Android also allows users to place the Swedish company’s products into their own homes using 3D and augmented reality. Check out the video below of the app in action.

What remains to be seen is how using ARKit would improve or differentiate IKEA’s augmented reality experience from what it currently offers in their catalog app. As IKEA’s Android app also has AR features, it will make for an interesting comparison of augmented reality experiences on iOS 11 built on ARKit versus non-ARKit experiences on other platforms.

The app will be released this fall for iOS 11.

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