You dream of a couch, but have no idea how your vague inkling of a couch will actually work in your living space. Or you go to a furniture store, measurements in hand, looking to acquire a table, but walk away unsure whether said table will look all wrong, even if it technically fits in your dining room.
But what if you could mitigate all that stress with an app? Ikea is trying to provide the solution with its newest addition to the field of highly convenient AR tools, which it calls Ikea Studio. Made in partnership with the Danish interior design lab Space10, the app aims to use an iPhone’s LiDAR sensors to understand your living space and determine whether your preferred Ikea ottoman or oversized lamp will fit in your living room.
It’s currently in beta, downloadable through TestFlight, though sadly it is only available on iOS. Still, if you can install it, you’ll probably find it worthwhile to give it a try before you next trip to the big yellow and blue box. Anything to make the excursion a bit less of an odyssey (in the classical sense).
How to use Ikea Studio
The gist is pretty simple: The app captures a floor plan of a room you’d like to redecorate, and then allows you to peruse a limited catalogue of Ikea offerings that conform to your room’s dimensions. Conveniently, it’ll replace your existing furniture with white boxes, easily overridden by the images of the Ikea furniture you select. The scanning system accounts for the presence of windows and doorways and allows you to change a wall’s color. If you’d like to test out some of the more superfluous capabilities of augmented reality, the app also lets you switch digital lamps on and off, just in case you are of limited imagination and want to see what your proposed quarters might look like with more or less light.
More usefully, you can see what your walls look like festooned with shelves, or how they might appear if painted with a delightful shade of seaweed green:
When you’re done exploring the possibilities, you can export a 3-D or 2-D rendering of your floor plan. Hopefully, the process will make the monotonous task of outfitting your home a little less so, provided you are satisfied looking to Ikea for all of your furnishing needs. (If you aren’t, keep reading.)
A precursor to Apple Glass?
There just has to be a proprietary business model in place, doesn’t there? In an interview with Wired UK, Space10’s digital design lead Tommy Campbell suggested that the arrival of Apple’s AR glasses will provide a broader venue for Ikea’s digital furniture ambitions.
He told the magazine:
So we’ve made very deliberate decisions to paint the vision of Studio as one that can exist on both the smartphone or in a glasses-like setting. We’ve also used a new renderer reality kit from Apple that lets us achieve a level of detail on these models that hasn’t been seen before in IKEA’s AR portfolio.
Apple Glass or not, the beta iPhone app offers an interesting new way to explore your decorating options without pulling out a tape measurer.
Other apps do the same thing
Ikea’s app might look like the best-in-class version of this kind thing right now, but that doesn’t negate those that came before. If you don’t have an iPhone or don’t want to consign yourself to becoming an Ikea brand-warrior, there are some other apps that do the same (or a similar) thing.
- Magicplan also makes a floor plan of your surroundings, and integrates with Amazon, broadening the scope of what you can order and visualize. It’s available for iOS and Android.
- Houzz is a little different, in that it contains photos for you to search through in the hopes of finding a creative spark, but it also lets you take a photo of your surroundings to see what some new accoutrements would like in your digs. It’s likewise available on iOS and Android.
- Dulux Visualizer reminds us just how important paint can be. The paint company has its own app that allows you to upload a photo to see what color would best suit your walls. Available for iOS and Android.
- Oh yes, and then there’s Wayfair. The online furniture purveyor has an app that’s eerily similar to Ikea’s, in that you can see how its exclusive offerings fit inside your house. It’s on Android and iOS.