This article has been republished with the permission of Furniture Today USA.
Words: Alex Milstein
Augmented reality (AR) is a hot topic in the furniture industry, and Houzz, a leading design and home renovation platform, is looking at it from a different angle.
Instead of making an AR app, it has embedded AR components into its already existing Houzz app. The feature, dubbed View in My Room 3D, allows customers to preview more than 300,000 furniture and décor products from the Houzz Shop in 3D in their own homes before buying
“A lot of people are having trouble overcoming how they imagine what something would look like in their space,” said Sally Huang, lead of visual technologies for Houzz. “As a result, you have companies coming in and creating AR tech demos. What Houzz believes is, in order for AR to be useful to a mass audience, it can’t just be a tech demo. It has to be something much more ubiquitous. It needs to be something that you can just pick up and will be right there when you’re actually doing the shopping. You shouldn’t have to go to an AR app to actually do visualization.”
To use View in My Room 3D, a shopper taps the View in My Room 3D button on a product page for any 3D-enabled product, launching the iPhone or iPad camera. When the camera is held up to display the room, the selected product appears in 3D in the screen. The shopper can move the item around the room and add multiple products to see how they will work together. They can then buy the product within the Houzz app.
The app works on iPhone and iPad and is available free through the App Store. They have plans to release a version for Android in the near future.
Huang said this is important because when Houzz set out to solve the AR problem, they didn’t just want to solve it for those few people with special devices. They wanted to target mass audiences.
Huang comes from a video gaming background, and she said her entire team previously worked in either video gaming or film. These industries have been using 3D scanning and AR technology for years, so AR was nothing new to them.
All of Houzz’s core technology is developed in-house through Houzz Labs so that there is no trouble integrating and embedding new features. It can develop its own technology that makes sense to Houzz and that integrates with other Houzz technology, including two features launched last year, Sketch and Visual Match.
Sketch allows users to communicate ideas and collaborate directly on any of the millions of photos on Houzz by adding measurements, notes, stickers and more. With the AR feature, users can take screen shots of their room and use Sketch to collaborate on designs with other people.
Visual Match is a visual recognition tools that scans images and helps people find similar products on Houzz. Users can search for products they like and compare them with Visual Match before placing them in the AR feature for 3D viewing.
“Together with other features, our AR technology is just another way Houzz is innovating the shopping experience and helping people to design their home,” said Huang.