Ikea excludes your living room furniture so you buy more

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

My 75lb golden retriever wears a cone of shame near my front door. My kids play on our leather couch. A shoe rack—a piece of furniture I don’t like much, but which has proved indispensable to my family’s mess—is in the background, silently judging the scene.

[Image: Ikea]

And then, with a single touch, they’re all gone, leaving me with the same empty room I had when I first bought the house. I just scanned my living room with the updated Ikea app, which is re-released today (along with a similar web experience). While excluding my family is admittedly an unsettling feeling, it leaves a lot of room for my imagination. As I drag new Ikea furniture into the space – positioned via augmented reality – I must admit, this is a pretty handy way to redecorate a room without all the weight of previous decisions!

[Image: Ikea]

Most app updates are forgettable. But Ikea is powered by a new AI feature called IKEA Kreativ, which promises to clean any room in your house, making boxes, vases and furniture disappear so you can build a perfect room without simply relying on your imagination.

The process of getting here was not instantaneous. First, I had to take several shots of the space, lining up the edges of the different ones, like stitching together a panoramic image. Then the app asked me to wave my camera at a weird number eight – and a bigger eight – and then take a few steps to my right to do it all over again. With every order Ikea placed, I admit I lost a little bit of confidence that this would work. And once I was done, I still had to wait another 10 minutes for processing.

[Image: Ikea]

But when that annoyance is complete, I’ll admit that Ikea has delivered very well on its promise. Inside the app editor, I saw all the objects outlined in my room. I could tap any individual furniture (or discrete canine) to delete it. Then a few more touches took me to Ikea’s digital catalog of sofas, dressers, end tables and more. All of these items are rendered in 3D, allowing you to drag thousands of Ikea products right into your living room, where they are automatically resized to the proper perspective.

[Image: Ikea]

Visuals are not perfect. Fabrics, in particular, appear too digitally glossy to understand what the colors will look like in person. My existing rug melted into my hardwood floor instead of disappearing. But when I pulled several new sections into my space, I instantly got a sense of its scale. Then, a few minutes later, I successfully proved that a table could fit in a kitchen nook – no tape measure needed.

“People tend to buy [furniture] without context and trust their imagination,” said Thomas Fenrich, vice president of digital products at 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.”

[Image: Ikea]

As Fenrich explains, Ikea wants to give consumers the same visual experience as shopping in an Ikea store, but without leaving their home. To achieve this, Ikea has been pursuing this AR technology for some time – since 2017, when it launched its Ikea Place app. Place was impressive for the time, but it was still a tech demo more than anything else, testing how one could place digital objects in their own space. You couldn’t buy any Ikea furniture from it.

As the company began consolidating its digital products a few years ago, Place’s technology has been incorporated into Ikea’s core application. In 2020, Ikea parent company Ingka Investments acquired Silicon Valley AI startup Geomagical Labs to improve its core AR technologies. As a direct result of that acquisition, you can now erase a dresser in your Ikea app, but still have a clean wall when it disappears, rather than a black hole. (The AI ​​is smart enough to not only see walls, floors, and lighting, but also use that information to create new floors and walls where furniture sits, creating the illusion of empty space.) Going forward, Ikea says the app can help us update wall colors, mount things on walls and ceilings, and even collaborate with others on projects.

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

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

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