At WWDC 2017, Tim Cook gave a brief mention of plans for a collaboration with Ikea, with the furniture chain bringing 3D models of its various wares into Apple’s nascent augmented-reality platform, ARKit.
Now, an interview in a Swedish publication has shone a little more light on what shape this partnership will take. As reported by 9to5Mac, Ikea’s digital transformation manager Michael Valdsgaard told Digital.di that the company plans for all of its beds, chairs, cabinets and so on to come in both physical and AR versions.
“This will be the first augmented-reality app that allows you to make reliable buying decision […] When we launch new products, they will come first in the AR app.”
According to Valdsgaard, users will be able to use an Apple device to look around their home, plonking virtual items of furniture on their actual carpet with “millimetre-precise” positioning. Not only with the scale of the virtual object keep in line with its real surroundings, but so will the lighting. The idea is that you’ll be able to see an augmented-reality layout of your home, to get a better sense of, say, what shade of leather chair looks good beside your enormous stuffed moose.
9to5Mac believes the tool might initially be used in-store, although this seems to defeat the point of the AR app, which is presumably centred on bringing Ikea items (in virtual form) into your own living room. Of course, the heart of all of this is ecommerce, and Ikea is sure to have very obvious links between its 3D models and ways to buy the actual products. What? Did you think Apple and Ikea wanted to make an AR Sims game? Not that that’s completely unheard of…
Valdsgaard said that Ikea is working on a “tight deadline”, so whether or not this tool appears in times for iOS 11 remains to be seen. We wouldn’t be surprised if Apple does a showcase of the tech during its iPhone 8 launch in September.