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Review IKEA Catalog
Augmented reality virtual furniture
Author: Tariq Abdulla
Date: 02 Jul 2014, tested on HTC One S
Powerful functionality, stylish design, completely free
Lags a bit
I am so excited about the 2014 IKEA Catalogue. “What?” I hear you say. “A furniture catalog? That sounds boring!” Well what if I told you that this year’s IKEA Catalogue has Augmented Reality built into every other page? What if I told you that if you flick through the IKEA catalogue, while looking at it through your phone screen (or presumably while wearing Google Glasses if you are lucky enough to own a pair); you’ll see interactive content popping up?
What if I told you that the interactive content includes 3D models? And that by putting the IKEA catalogue face-up on your floor, you can watch those 3D models “magically” appear in your home? That you can then rotate them and slide them around on your floor to see what they look like, and how they would fit, in your very own lounge?
I bet, like me, you would be pretty excited. I bet you would be racing down to IKEA right now to get one of their catalogues, while simultaneously downloading IKEA Catalog for Android onto your phone or tablet, so that you could try this out as soon as possible! What are you waiting for? Go! Go there now!
IKEA Catalog for Android is a fairly mediocore browser into which you can download any of IKEA’s furniture catalogs. It's pretty slow for actually looking through the catalgoues, and lags quite a bit. I also wish that there was a way to search through all the interactive content, especially the 3D models, without needing to flick through the digital or paper catalogues; but alas I could find no such feature.
Of course, what really sets our paces going is the inclusion of augmented reality. This is very well played by IKEA, completely understated and 100% aligned with their trendy image. They are using augmented reality in a completely useful and practical way, that is going to appeal to pretty much everyone. And it can only get better and better as the technology and software improves.
Last December, we moved house, and bought sofas from IKEA. If I had known about this app back then, we could have moved the virtual sofas around in our living room, and found the best places to put them before they even arrived. If we'd done that, I might not have needed to move the actual, very heavy sofas around and around the living room 15-20 times, before my partner was finally happy with their ultimate configuration!
Part of the irony here is that I never actually pick up catalogues; as I assume all the content will be available online when I want to find it. But in this case, the app works best if you have the catalogue, or a printout of the cover; so IKEA Catalog for Android can establish the scale, and put your furniture on the floor. Luckily, my wonderful wife always picks up catalogues, so I was able to test this feature in our living room as soon as I found out about it! So I think you can see how different approaches to buying furniture can lead to a lot of family fun with this one.
Her impulse to take home a paper catalogue has satisfied my urge to play around with the digital wizardry. I am definitely getting this app out immediately as soon as anyone starts using a tape measure in our house. And I'm going to carry a copy of the paper catalogue around with me, just so that I can show people. As a bonus, you can take silly photos of balancing a wardrobe or sofa on your head; by holding the paper catalogue in one hand and using the augmented reality feature. Terrific stuff! Well done IKEA! For 2015, please can we have augmented reality boxes, so I can also check whether your flat-packed products will fit in the car?