What looks good in a showroom or catalog doesn't always live up to expectations once you've put the Allen wrench down. So you might want to fire up the iPhone, Android phone, or iPad before even setting foot inside a store, and try using an augmented reality app to "try on" furniture before buying...
Furnish, an app formerly known as IKEA Now, was first built to help shoppers preview IKEA furniture using a catalog of 3D models, superimposing select furnishings against the backdrop of any real background taken with the shopper's smartphone camera. The developers have since had to change their name due to legal reasons, but they've returned much improved.
Alongside changing their name, Android is now supported with its own app, alongside the catalog of furniture retailers expanded to include both Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn, with a "coming soon" note listing Restoration Hardware, Living Spaces, Sears, Ashleys, Plummers, Bassett, DWR (Design Within Reach), Target and CB2 all in the queue for future updates to their 3D model catalog.
The app seems an obvious step beyond the traditionally printed mailer catalog, allowing shoppers to not only consider the decorative and color/pattern potential of a furniture purchase, but the dimensional presence in situ, hopefully preventing buyer's remorse return trips.
The quality of 3D models range from "pretty good" (like the Poäng rocking chair shown above), offering a genuinely helpful preview of what a piece may look like in a home environment, to sometimes virtual representations more fitting for a Sims video game abode than a real world equivalent. But using the app is quite fun, especially on the larger iPad, with the ability for users to purchase pieces directly from the app.
How long before this 3rd party solution becomes a common offering with similar augmented reality previewing directly from all the retailers above? More likely sooner than later, considering the great potential to fine tune advertisements and advertorial offers to buyers cultivated from actual images from insider shoppers homes, both an exciting and worrisome premise in one.
Furnish is available now for free for iOS and Android devices (alongside an iPad optimized version).
(Images: Furnish Lab)