Design

360 Furniture: AR and the Future of Design

December 14, 2022

Augmented reality has done much to enhance our enjoyment of everyday life. Many people forget about the many mundane, everyday things they do that are enhanced by augmented reality due to how prevalent technology has become.

Using your phone to project a digital character into the real world, or to try on makeup from home, is less exciting when it is prevalent in our daily lives. But it is easy to forget the vast applications that augmented reality can bring to our lives.

An Explanation of Augmented Reality and How It Impacts Retail

In the furniture world, we are continuing to explore new uses of augmented reality. Digital enhancements to our lives can completely modify the way we design, build, and shop for furniture. Join us as we explore how augmented reality is changing the industry.

Augmented Reality and the Impact on eCommerce and Physical Retail

The online shopping experience is advantageous for many reasons. The ability to buy everything at the touch of a button is so convenient that people are flocking to buy online.

eCommerce sales in the first quarter of 2022 accounted for 13.9% of total sales, while the second quarter of 2022 increased by 7.4% from the same period last year. It is exponential growth that will not decrease.

While e-commerce is now a significant piece of the retail market, it does not hold the market share. A considerable part of the experience is that you can still only get in a physical store, but augmented reality is helping online retailers compete in new ways. The biggest draw must be viewing digital objects on your body or home.

But augmented reality can impact physical retail as well. These digital enhancements allow the two forms to work together, especially in furniture sales and design. We will see how augmented reality has reshaped furniture design and where it can continue growing.

What Is 360 Degree Furniture? The Exploration of Digital Furniture

When we say 360 furniture, we are talking about one of the most impactful uses of the furniture industry augmented reality has had.

Many websites will utilize a 360-degree image of a piece of furniture. They take photos of the furniture from every angle and composite them together to allow users to view it from all angles by dragging it across their screen. Augmented reality took that concept and went one step further.

By allowing users to place that piece of furniture in their home, scale it automatically to their space, and have it sit perfectly on the ground like real, companies changed how retailers could portray their products.

In real-time, users could walk around that piece of furniture. You did not have to imagine it in your home but could see it right there. Augmented reality companies continue to provide this service to retailers who want to let an entire audience of home shoppers get the whole furniture-buying adventure.

That is the actual 360-degree experience that augmented reality provides, and it is only growing. Innovations are allowing consumers and businesses to expand the services they offer. Eventually, the entire experience will be accessible online as if you were shopping in a store.

Many companies already offer apps that make the furniture shopping process more accessible. It is a natural evolution for a brand to expand to capture the home shopping market.

As we have seen, the online market for shopping has grown a tremendous amount, up to 50% larger during the height of the pandemic, with no signs of diminishing.

Augmenting the Design World

A room designer is a significant part of the furniture buying experience. As a customer, it isn't easy to have the vision to see how a room will come together, but it is the designer’s job to help them see it. Augmented reality can help make anyone a designer.

Early uses of augmented reality in furniture shopping allowed users to place a piece of furniture in their home, but it was limited to one object at a time. To design a room, you must see everything together.

New technology allows users to make this very thing, a revolution that Amazon has already begun to deploy. The future of furniture shopping will allow you to place multiple pieces of decor and furniture in your room, save the layouts, and continue to modify them.

Returns and Trial and Error

Even having a designer helping you does not allow you to visualize a room alone. They can create a mood board and show you pictures of the pieces they want to decorate your home with, but you are still using your imagination to place those items in a room.

And then there are those instances where you have decided on a piece of furniture, but it is not what you imagined.

Designers will regularly haul furniture pieces back and forth to home, handling returns and new purchases until they find the exact style a customer wants.

With augmented reality, designers can now utilize the ability to put a piece of furniture in your home and let you see how it looks. This saves everyone time and eliminates the headache of a lengthy return process and waiting for new pieces to arrive.

Custom Furniture Options and How Augmented Reality Can Help

But the benefits of augmented reality do not stop there. Augmented reality can also benefit designers when picking the correct pattern with many options for custom furniture pieces. This helps both a room designer and those designing the actual product.

The average furniture shopping experience relies on swatches of fabric for custom orders. This is an excellent way for a customer to feel a piece of fabric and see what it looks like, but this hardly allows them to see how it looks on their couch. Again, they must use their imagination to visualize it covering the entire piece.

Some websites offer a viewer that will reskin a photo of a couch in the customer’s desired fabric. While this allows the user to understand better how a couch would look covered entirely in their fabric of choice, it is not the complete package.

Even if it is a 3D viewer, the user is missing out. But augmented reality can change that.

Now, with a digital piece of furniture, you can place it in your home and reskin it in whatever option you choose. Get rid of the guessing game and get right to the answer. You will see precisely how your couch's design will pair with the rest of your decor.

Designing Furniture With Augmented Reality

For those designing the furniture, this means two things. While in the design phase, they can create 3D designs that they can visualize in a natural landscape. There is no need to develop physical test models to understand how the piece would look.

That also means that the piece can be tested in different homes to fine-tune its functionality, and slight alterations can be done to the design without having to reproduce anything new.

Designing patterns or testing out fabrics also becomes more accessible. They can also create digital patterns and apply them to a piece of AR furniture to see how they might look. Augmented reality makes the design process more straightforward, from creation to sale.

Augmented Reality and the Online Shopper

These innovations provide significant boons to the in-person design and consulting industry. However, the advantages afforded to online shoppers are enormous, not even considering the ever-important post-pandemic shopper.

Those groups now prefer to do their shopping and in-person interactions online as much as possible.

The furniture industry, in particular, has grown up to 15% higher in online retail. More shoppers are making their purchases online to avoid the crowd of people mobbing physical stores — the convenience of shopping online appeals to a large portion of customers.

eCommerce must adapt to meet their needs, and augmented reality is one of the ways that can help businesses do that while also increasing the capabilities of a physical retail location.

Furniture From Every Angle

Furniture might not seem like a prominent place for augmented reality. Beyond being able to place a piece of furniture in your living room, the applications at first seem limited since you cannot sit on an AR bed or couch.

But when you factor in the many applications it can have in helping you make decisions about furniture and cutting down on excess returns, you open yourself up to a versatile tool that can expand any furniture business.

With the prevalence of augmented reality in our society, we can begin to see these changes taking hold of every aspect of retail.

Furniture retailers will find it impossible to live without the ability for clients to fully customize a room without ever bringing a piece of furniture into their homes. Augmented reality is genuinely revolutionizing the future of design, so do not get left behind.

If you're interested in learning more about AR technologies, check out the rest of our site.

Here at Illumix, we specialize in building dynamic AR experiences that can enhance your brand. We've done the heavy lifting already. Contact us to learn how we can help.

We know you're ready for the change, so upgrade your store with augmented reality today.


Sources:

Amazon now lets you design a whole room of augmented-reality furniture | CNET

Top 10 AR Furniture Shopping Apps that Change the Future of Business - PostIndustria

E-Commerce Sales Grew 50% to $870 Billion During The Pandemic | Forbes

Will Amazon dominate the online furniture market? - RetailWire

QUARTERLY RETAIL E-COMMERCE SALES 2nd QUARTER 2022

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