Earlier this week, both IKEA and Anthropologie released augmented reality (AR) components of their respective iOS apps, built on Apple’s ARKit technology. Both apps offer user experiences that are as playful as they are pragmatic: You simply face whatever real-life environment you’d like and plop a hulking piece of imaginary furniture within it, scaling that furniture based on room dimensions.
Consider the apps Pokémon GO for the home and design set, so wildly immersive that you can even situate furniture in contexts outside your home. A subway platform, for example.
IKEA developed a specific app, called IKEA Place, that allows you to sift through a catalog that’s over 2,000 products strong. Anthropologie, meanwhile, simply added an AR capability to its existing Anthropologie app, and its AR functionalities apply to a catalog that’s considerably less exhaustive than IKEA’s, constrained to 42 customizable furniture styles, at least for now.
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The fact that such a technology even exists, and has been adopted by two titans of the design realm, has led some to surmise that AR may outright change the way we shop for furniture. That prediction doesn’t seem too far off: These apps take the guesswork and gamble out of shopping for furniture, an exercise that can lead to some ungainly interiors.
I suspect this is just the beginning of how home and design–oriented companies will harness AR technologies to better cater to consumer desires and inform the decisions we make. The apps are only compatible with iPhone 6s and above, and you have to update your iOS to 11.0 to use them. If that applies to you, give them a whirl.
IKEA Place is available for download here. To download the Anthropologie app, head here.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.