Many retailers strive to find new and efficient ways to attract more customers and increase sales.
In this article, we will tell you about IKEA’s new augmented reality furniture app, how you can create a similar solution, and how much money you will have to spend on such a development.
Right after the release of the last iOS version, a famous Swedish furniture retailer has presented its mobile app called IKEA Place based on the augmented reality (AR) technology. Using a smartphone-based camera, this app allows users to see how a sofa, chair, or any other furniture element would look like within a real interior.
Why IKEA decided to build an AR app
IKEA has been using 3D graphics for a long time. Instead of taking photos of their inventory and furniture for catalogs, they have been using the popular Autodesk software called 3ds Max for rendering photo-realistic images.
Most of the furniture images in their catalogs are 3d models rather than photos.
IKEA Place AR app is a part of IKEA’s digital marketing strategy along with their stores, catalogs, and website. Apple’s ARKit, a tool that significantly facilitates the augmented reality app development, was a primary booster of building the IKEA Place app.
In fact, IKEA is a partner of Apple and was among the clients of Metaio, an augmented reality startup acquired by Apple two years ago.
People often hesitate to buy certain furniture or just return it to the store right after the purchase because they are afraid of making the wrong decision. They may like a particular sofa, but it’s hard to determine how it will fit their interior.
IKEA augmented reality app allows customers to see what their room will look like if they had already bought the item.
IKEA Place overview
IKEA’s augmented reality furniture application allows customers to place virtually furniture pieces in their rooms with the help of a camera on their mobile device.
They can set different colors of furnishings and move or rotate each piece as they like. The IKEA AR app supports only the iOS platform starting from the 11th version.
It has several features that include:
- a furniture catalog;
- virtual furniture placement with a possibility to change item colors;
- the capability to take a photo of the placement;
- social sharing.
To start using the AR app, a user has to allow the application to access the camera. IKEA augmented reality app enables users to place virtually as many furnishings as they want.
Once users make their choice, they can follow the link at the top of the chosen item and purchase it on IKEA’s website.
The IKEA Place catalog contains item descriptions, sorting by category, and pricing details. Unfortunately, the IKEA catalog contains only the most popular and recently added items so far.
IKEA Place alternatives
Augmented reality technologies are new. That’s why you don’t see every retailer using augmented reality apps in their digital marketing strategy.
However, the Swedish brand is not the only company to adopt AR technology or the first company to develop augmented reality apps in the furniture trade industry.
Augmented Furniture Lite
In 2014, there appeared an AR interior design app called Augmented Furniture Lite that allows users to virtually place furniture from different manufacturers inside of a real room.
The application provides a product catalog where users can choose furnishings; add them to a wishlist, set their colors, material, texture, and available dimensions.
Users can also share saved items with their friends via the social sharing feature.
On the 1-st of November, Amazon introduced a new augmented reality feature to their app for iOS-based mobile devices. The AR View feature enables customers to visualize products including furnishings, which they may consider buying, in their real living space.
The same as IKEA Place, AR View is based on Apple’s ARKit. To try this feature, the user should tap on the camera app icon and choose the AR View option.
Once a user chooses the necessary category and product, they can rotate and move the item to virtually anywhere within the living space.
Tango, Lowe’s Vision, and WayfairView
Lowe and Wayfair, furniture retailers, use their own Tango-based apps to provide users with the capability to place 3D furniture images in real interiors.
Tango is a Google 3D vision technology and applies computer vision to provide mobile devices with the ability to determine their position relative to the things around them.
It uses several core technologies, such as Area Learning, Depth Perception, and Motion Tracking to provide both smartphones and tablets with this kind of understanding.
The platform is incorporated only into two specific devices, such as Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR.
The cost of the AR application development
In case you need an augmented reality mobile app like IKEA Place, you always have two options: to organize your own team of developers or hire a professional augmented reality company.
Though, for retailers whose specialties rarely have something in common with the augmented reality app development, it is better to choose the latter option in order to avoid wasting time on finding specialists with the right skillsets.
Many retailers hesitate to build augmented reality app because they are not sure if it’s worth it and they don’t know exactly how much money they will have to spend on the development.
So, in this paragraph, we will cover the main expenses in details.
The whole AR application development process consists of three main stages that include:
The cost of building an augmented reality app development depends on the experience of the AR company you consider hiring and the project scope. The price also depends on the location that is chosen to establish your team. App development rates vary from country to country, but we will cover prices based on rates within the U.S.
However, below, you will find augmented reality development rates in other countries, and you will be able to estimate the approximate cost based on time estimates and local rates.
According to the last research, average iOS app developer hourly rates by region are:
- North America: from $150 per hour;
- South America: from $43 per hour;
- United Kingdom: from $70 per hour;
- Eastern Europe: from $35 per hour;
- India: from $30 per hour;
- Australia: from $110 per hour.
Design plays a significant role in an AR app’s success. Users first estimate the graphics and then functionality: how detailed and realistic furniture 3D images are matters a lot from the users perspective. The design for an augmented reality app, such as IKEA Place, can take about 3-5 weeks.
Therefore you will need from 120 to 200 hours to create a design for your augmented reality furniture app.
Time needed: 120-200 hours.
AR app design cost: $18,000-$30,000.
The development process is apparently the most important stage of the project.
To create an augmented reality mobile application like IKEA Place, developers would need to use Google Tango for Android and ARKit for iOS.
Every additional feature adds time to your schedule and, as a result, your expenses increase. IKEA Place doesn’t enable users to make purchases in the app which significantly reduces the task.
The time estimate for a furniture app’s features:
- a furniture catalog: 100-200 hours
- virtual furniture placing with a possibility to change item colors: 110-220 hours
- a capability to make a photo of placing: 10-20 hours
- social sharing: 20-40 hours.
Total time needed: 240-480 hours.
App development cost: $36,000-$72,000.
Finding and eliminating bugs is the shortest stage compared to the design and coding itself.
However, it doesn’t make this stage the least important. Testing an app like IKEA Place can take two weeks on average.
Taking into account that an average app developers hourly rate in North America is $150, you will need to spend about $12,000 on testing your augmented reality app.
Total time needed: 80 hours.
App development cost: $12,000.
Therefore, to develop an augmented reality furniture app like IKEA Place, you will need from 440 to 760 hours (3-5 months). The development can cost you from $66,000 to $114,000.
The total amount seems high, but the final high-quality AR app is worth the expense.
Furthermore, to reduce your budget, you can consider hiring developers outside the U.S. where app development hourly rates may be lower.
How furniture businesses can benefit from augmented reality for retail
Forbes has called the augmented reality a trend of 2017.
We can see how various retailers, such as IKEA and Amazon, adopt augmented reality technologies to take a step further in their marketing strategies aimed at expanding their lists of customers and increasing sales.
The augmented reality technology obviously creates numerous breathtaking possibilities for furniture manufacturers and retailers. With augmented reality, customers will be able to preview their interiors with furnishings they haven’t even purchased.
With the increasing awareness about your AR-based solution, customers will gladly give it a try.
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