No matter how much measuring and research you do beforehand, buying a piece of furniture without knowing what it will look like in your home is always a gamble. With its new augmented reality app, IKEA hopes to take some of the guesswork out of the process. IKEA Place features more than 2000 items in the Swedish retailer's inventory, and visualizing them in the space where you live is as easy as tapping a button.
As WIRED reports, IKEA Place is among the first apps to take advantage of Apple's ARKit, an augmented reality platform that debuted as part of iOS 11. iPhone and iPad owners with the latest update can download IKEA's new app for free and start browsing through home goods right away.
To use the tool, you must first select the product you wish to test out, whether it's a loveseat, a kitchen table, or a dresser. Then, with the camera activated, you can point your device at whichever space you want the item to fill and watch it appear on the screen in front of you.
According to IKEA, the 3D models are scaled with 98 percent accuracy. Factors that are hard to analyze from photos online, like shadows, lighting, and textures, are also depicted as they would appear in real life. So if a sofa that looks great under the lights of a store looks drab in your living room, or if a desk that seems tiny online doesn't fit inside your office, the app will let you know. It's the closest you can get to seeing how a piece of furniture complements a room without lugging it through the doorway.
IKEA isn't the first company to improve interior design with computerized images. Several hardware stores and furniture outlets offer their own AR apps. Other services like Modsy let customers pay to create full virtual models of their homes before populating them with 3D furniture. Even IKEA had a basic AR app prior to this one, but it was glitchy and not always accurate. This newest iteration aims to provide a more seamless shopping experience. And with the latest iOS update placing a greater emphasis on AR, you can expect to see more apps using the technology in the near future.
Curating a Pinterest board is often more fun—and always less expensive—than filling a space with actual furniture. Now, there’s a new tool from West Elm designed to put your time spent pinning decor ideas to practical use. As Fast Company reports, the home retail brand’s Pinterest Style Finder uses an AI algorithm to recommend furnishings that best suit your tastes.
Users start by pasting the URL of a Pinterest board they love, whether it’s their own or someone else’s, into the web tool. Then, they select a category of furnishings to browse through, such as bedroom, kitchen, or office.
That’s when the AI gets to work: A neural network powered by the startup Clarifai analyzes the images and finds products in West Elm’s catalogue that match the style. If you input a board of boho-chic furniture, for example, the tool brings up reclaimed wood nightstands and funky quilts. Search for products related to your vintage kitchen board and you’ll get retro stools and mid-century bar carts.
Of course, the results are limited to what’s in the retailer’s inventory, so if you would never shop at West Elm to begin with this may not be the tool for you. If you'd rather pick out furniture the old-fashioned way, here are some neural network-free design tips to follow.
[h/t Fast Company]