For those who are interested in home décor and upkeep as regular activities, the idea of supplementing efforts with augmented reality technology has become a popular topic. That said, for many others, it’s still a very strange topic that requires a little bit of explaining. One article last summer went so far as to claim that augmented reality is the future of home décor shopping. But what does that actually mean, and how did we get to a point at which a statement like that could reasonably be made?
As you may or may not know, the story really begins with gaming. When virtual reality gaming first became a consumer product, we weren’t really sure what to expect, or what else it might lead to. Most people became aware of or loosely familiar with devices like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and we frequently saw demonstrations of and articles about virtual reality gaming (and usually its potential “once it got good”) online. But the more significant developments for our purposes were when VR started to become prominent in mobile technology. Products like Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, and others made it possible for people to use their phones to facilitate VR.
This opened the door for more developers, companies, and industries to explore the concept of virtual reality. Simpler puzzle and strategy games could easily be translated to VR, for instance. Casino games, too, became easier to adapt. Indeed, one site dealing with this particular genre had one of the more prescient (if simple) statements about mobile gaming in general: mobile casinos should give you plenty of ways to play. This is a statement that’s really true of a lot of genres that can be presented in various interesting ways on mobile media, and VR is, in a sense, just the latest style.
This idea – that VR could simply be a next step in mobile development – primed the mobile market for augmented reality, which is an alternate form of VR that is perhaps even better suited for mobile devices. Accordingly, we saw something of an explosion in AR activity last fall, when Google and Apple both made it easier for companies to develop apps in the previously non-existent category. And this, somewhat surprisingly, is where home décor came into play. While we immediately saw the beginning of a new genre of games – AR experiences based on phones and tablets – some of the very first apps to come out in augmented reality were in fact those that dealt with décor.
IKEA was first out of the gate with an app that, as Popsugar put it, would make one of your home decorating dreams come true. The dream, as that article put it, was basically the ability to totally revamp a room on a whim, without any actual purchases, consequences, heavy lifting, or other issues. Basically, IKEA’s app made it possible to look through furniture and decorative products, aim your phone at the room you happened to be sitting in, and visualize through the camera the items you’re looking at being placed in the room. It simulates redesigning the entire room with all-new furniture at a few taps of a screen.
On the heels of this app were numerous others – some from companies looking to sell products in a similar fashion, and some facilitating the easy measurement and arrangement of rooms. All in all it’s a category that’s grown at a somewhat shocking speed, almost keeping pace with the AR games that brought us here in the first place (and which naturally garner a great deal more attention). Now you need only glance at the AR section in an app store to see incredible new tools for design and décor.