• Alex Milstein

The Future is 3-D: What Apple’s ARKit means for the furniture industry

Major players adopt augmented reality through ARKit

The Future is 3-D: What Apple’s ARKit Means for the Furniture Industry

GREENSBORO, N.C., – A few months ago, Apple made a big move by releasing its augmented reality (AR) platform ARKit, and now major players in the furniture industry like Houzz and Wayfair are making moves of their own by releasing ARKit apps for their stores.

ARKit is a framework that allows users to easily build augmented reality experiences from the iPhone or iPad, and it opens new doors to many companies that want to dive into AR. Beck Besecker, CEO of AR and virtual reality company Marxent, says this move marks a major turning point for the retail industry.

“Shopping for furniture in AR may not be as fun as playing beer pong in AR, and it may not come with a fancy head mounted display, but what it does come with is the admission from major retailers that the next generation of computing and customer engagement relies on 3-D content,” Besecker says. “It also shows new confidence that AR is capable of the scale and consumer acceptance necessary to enable this major shift that we are witnessing in both mobile computing and how we shop for things.”

It’s an exciting time for retail, as ARKit will bring AR in front of consumers like never before, and they will soon expect to see this technology when they shop. That said, Besecker explains that right now it’s hard to know just how scalable and flexible these new ARKit apps will be.

To meet the bar, retailers will have to do three things:

  1. Go beyond the current placing of a single item into a scene and instead create an experience with realistic models of products that help consumers get inspiration for their room.
  2. Create a feature that allows for the removal of objects in the background of a scene, commonly referred to as diminished reality.
  3. Have a solid process for creating, storing and reusing their 3-D content across all customer touch points and multiple operating systems.

Building a simple ARKit app with a few products isn't difficult. But for retailers with thousands of SKUs who want to integrate the technology into their customer experience, the cost of building out an in-house team with the know-how and resources to effectively create and manage 3-D content at scale is still a significant barrier to entry.

“If they don’t already have one, traditional retailers need a strategy and content management system to use 3-D content across multiple channels – from AR to VR to online – to accelerate their entry and create apps that meet the high expectations of consumers with the minimum friction,” Besecker says.

These early ARKit apps may indicate a bright future for AR and applications that use 3-D products to populate both real and virtual scenes. “In three to five years, everything from cars to user-generated content and product placements in media will be custom configured in 3-D. It may sound a bit silly, but what you see today is a giant step toward how we'll share inspiration, shop for new products and communicate with those closest to us. The future has arrived and it is 3-D.”

Alex MilsteinAlex Milstein | Assistant Editor
amilstein@furnituretoday.com

Hi everyone, I’m Alex. I have a passion for writing, a love of marketing and a knack for social media. As an assistant editor of Casual Living, I do everything from writing print features to managing social media accounts to creating and posting web content. I love telling stories and I’m always looking for new ideas. Feel free to email or call me with any story ideas and let me know what you’d like me to write about in the wonderful world of casual. Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FTalexM

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