Ikea’s new app removes furniture from your living room so you can buy even more

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Ikea just removed my dog. Well, I guess I deleted my dog, with the help of Ikea.

My 75 pound golden retriever wears a cone of shame by my front door. My kids are playing Switch on our leather couch. A shoe cabinet—a piece of furniture that I don’t really like but has proven indispensable to my family’s mess—sits in the background, quietly judging the scene.

And then, with a single click, they all disappear, leaving me with the same empty room as when I first bought the house. I just scanned my living room with Ikea’s updated app, which is relaunching today (alongside a similar experience on the web). While the removal of my family is admittedly a disturbing sensation, it leaves a lot of room for my imagination. As I slide new Ikea furniture through the space, positioned via augmented reality, I have to admit, it’s a pretty useful way to redecorate a room without all the weight of past decisions!

Most app updates are forgettable. But Ikea is powered by a new AI feature dubbed IKEA Kreativ, which promises to clear out any room in your home, making boxes, planters and furniture disappear so you can build a perfect room without just rely on your imagination.

The process to get here was not instantaneous. First, I had to take several photos of the space, aligning the edges of different photos, like stitching together a panoramic image. Then the app instructed me to wave my camera in a weird figure eight – and bigger figure eight – then take a few steps to my right to start all over again. With every request made by Ikea, I admittedly lost a bit of confidence that it would even work. And once I was done, I still had to wait another 10 minutes for the treatment.

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But once that hassle is over, I’ll admit that Ikea pretty much delivered on its promise. In the editor of the application, I saw all the objects described in my room. I could press down on any individual piece of furniture (or inconspicuous dog) to remove it. Then a few more swipes brought me to Ikea’s digital catalog of sofas, chests of drawers, end tables, and more. All of these are rendered in 3D, allowing you to drag thousands of Ikea products right into your room where they automatically resize with proper perspective.

The visuals aren’t perfect. The fabrics in particular appear with a little too much digital vibrancy to understand what the colors will look like in person. My existing rug blended into my hardwood floor instead of disappearing. But as I introduced several new sections to my space, I immediately got a sense of their scale. Then, a few minutes later, I managed to prove that a desk could fit in a kitchen corner – no tape measure needed.

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“People often buy [furniture] without context and trust their imagination,” said Thomas Fenrich, vice president, digital product, Ikea Group US, via email. “In fact, 87% of our customers say they want to feel good in their home, but only half of them know how to do it.”

As Fenrich explains, Ikea wants to give consumers the same visual experience as shopping in an Ikea store, but without leaving home. To do this, Ikea has been pursuing such AR technology for quite some time, since 2017, when it launched its Ikea Place app. Place was impressive for its time, but it was primarily a technology demonstration, testing how someone could put digital objects in their own space. You couldn’t buy Ikea furniture on it.

As the company began consolidating its digital products a few years ago, Place’s technology was integrated into Ikea’s core app. In 2020, Ikea’s parent company, Ingka Investments, acquired Silicon Valley AI startup Geomagical Labs to improve its core AR technologies. As a direct result of this acquisition, you can now erase a chest of drawers in your Ikea app and still have a clean wall when it’s gone instead of a black hole. (AI is smart enough to not only see walls, floors and lighting, but also use this information to create new floors and walls where furniture would otherwise be, creating the illusion of empty space .) In the future, Ikea says the app can help us update wall colors, mount objects on walls and ceilings, and even collaborate with others on designs.

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When I ask Fenrich how the new app may impact Ikea’s bottom line – will it eliminate some feedback if people have a better idea of ​​what a sofa looks like in their front space to buy it? “more affordable, accessible and truly sustainable.”

Either way, Ikea’s new app is an impressive system, especially since once you’ve placed all the new furniture and accessories, you can add those items to checkout, right in the app. In the past, Ikea’s visualization tools were decoupled from its shopping carts. Today, the company is blurring the lines between inspiring a purchase and making one.

Ikea’s new post app removes furniture from your living room so you can buy even more appeared first on Fast Company.

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