Top 8 AR furniture Apps Review in 2019
How Would That Sofa Look at Your Home?
I wrote an article titled Top 10 AR furniture Apps in 2017 two years ago, many people have asked for a follow-up. With all of the changes in the past years, I think it’s the right time to review what is new on the market again.
Augmented Reality is not as hot as two years ago. What is now being talked about, is the Artifical intelligence or Machine learning. Because of that, some of the players that were on my previous list a couple of years ago, now are out of the game. But I am still a strong believer that Augmented Reality (AR) will continue to renovate furniture industry, it’s just a matter of time. Let’s cut the chase and start to review 8 AR furniture Apps in this article from the product perspective.
Houzz has spent a lot of effort into building its market place, which I believe is its main source of revenue. The company introduced more 3D products onto the market place. Houzz also hid some design features deeply such as designing on a template etc. In the new release, the shopping flow is more like an e-commerce website such as Wayfair, where you can just shop with the ability to view items in your room in 2D or 3D. The user flow seems natural and smooth for the shopping audience, who are probably the company’s primary focus. However, there are some glitches when I conducted my testing. Sometimes, the 3D models in AR would freeze and I would have to re-start. Additionally, from the testing results, you can see the shadows are missing after you save your designs.
Pros: Great User Interface design for shoppers to try furniture in their room before they purchase.
Cons: Don’t have the ability to design a room and then purchase.
DecorMatters has changed a lot in the past two years. The app added a few 3D models for users who want to try furniture in 3D, but their main focus is still on 2D. The company added a new feature where you can upload your own furniture and decorations, and place it on a template or a picture of your room. This feature is very neat for users who are moving and want to see their old furniture in their new place. DecorMatters also redesigned its home page, where you can now gain inspirations or learn design tips from others. On top of that, the furniture choice has expanded, now partnering with more digital brands such as Wayfair, Overstock, etc. In my testing, I showed the 2D design in the third pic below instead of the app’s 3D models. But as you can see, the rendering results (even with 2D images) are not bad at all.
Pros: Great for users who want to design their room by themselves.
Cons: don’t have enough 3D models to shop.
A similar concept as DecorMatters, Homestyler wants to enable users to design their room before purchasing. I think Homestyler has the right idea regarding creating designs with 3D models, compared to Houzz’s solution. Let me explain. If you take a photo of your room, the app has the ability to convert it into a 3D scene where you can place 3D models into your picture offline, while Houzz’s solution is to let users try multiple 3D models live when holding their phone pointing to their room. I believe from a user standpoint, Houzz is not user-friendly in this case. However, Homestyler product selections are very limited and usually from non-popular brands. As a result, Homestyler is more like a fun product for designers, since shoppers won’t want to buy furniture from the platform.
Pros: All of the products are 3D models, which makes design easier from any angle.
Cons: The app is difficult to use due to the bad user interface design.
4. IKEA place
IKEA is leading the furniture industry from the company’s physical showrooms to its technology. AR for furniture is not a new concept for IKEA. The company’s concept videos were originally published on Youtube in 2013, six years ago. However, things haven’t changed since our last review. IKEA’s furniture categories within the App have not expanded to its full lists, meaning you can only view a few items if you want to purchase from IKEA. On the other hand, the app user experience is the best so far, in terms of UI and quality of their 3D models.
Pros: 3D models fidelity is really high. User interface design is nice.
Cons: Only a small set of Ikea furniture is available so far in the app.
Unlike IKEA who focuses on the offline showrooms, Wayfair is the new giant for e-commerce. They also started the AR game very early. Wayfair shopping experience is great, but in terms of its AR feature, the app is more focused on the shopping flow. Therefore, you can not really see different items in your room at the same time in 3D models to create your room designs. You are still capable of creating designs through 2D images by using templates. However, the user experience is really bad in terms of UI design.
Pros: 3D models fidelity is high.
Cons: Not all products have 3D models, and you can only view one item in your room at one time.
6. Pottery Barn 3D Room View
It seems that a lot of big brands put a pause on AR app development. For Pottery Barn, it almost has the same furniture selection as the company had in 2017. Pottery Barn’s 3D models are nicely rendered, and it almost feels as if they are real. But again, these are very limited furniture choice, to begin with. Their UI is a bit messy compared to IKEA place. During the testing, I could not even figure out how to place an item in my room by using the AR feature. Unrelated to AR, what drives me crazy is that the app has a UI bug existing on their landing page which is scaled un-proportionally to fit the screen (see the first image below).
Pros: High fidelity 3D models.
Cons: Only a few product choices. UI is messy.
To me, Housecraft is more like a game. It’s released by two developers without any following updates. Less than 50 furniture pieces in total for you to choose to place in your room. It does not have any other functionalities besides viewing a few items in your room.
Pros: Simple design.
Cons: Very limited product selection. No capability of doing a photo background design and save designs.
Charish is another e-commerce app. It also added a view-in-room feature where it allows you to place a 2D image on top of your camera or photo. Charish’s UI design is clean and nice. But they are also very small compared to other brands such as Wayfair and IKEA, the furniture selection in the app is very limited.
Pros: Clean UI design
Cons: No 3D models, limited furniture chocies.
The furniture retail industry is a giant market which generated $111 billion in sales in the US per year. However, when you have such a mature market, it often means it’s moving slowly due to saturation by so many strong competitors.
The good thing is that we see more and more players are adopting AR technology. The big names such as IKEA or Wayfair have resources to build an AR App by themselves. The smaller businesses look for AR solution from 3rd parties and that’s why we see more and more AR furniture solutions are designed for enterprises. However, if you think about it, the smaller businesses will have a smaller chance to win because of the customer size, even if they have their app ready for their users, the attraction will be really low to make it sustainable. I think in the future, we will also see many of them failed as what’s happening now, unfortunately.
The other good thing is that we also see more and more people, especially millennials, adopt AR App when they shop for furniture. But the battlefield for consumer-end AR furniture apps is very intense. Neybers, whose users are mainly decor lovers, just announced that they are going to shut down the app. Hutch, who was in the spotlight in Silicon Valley from 2017 to 2018 and raised $10M from Zillow, is now unavailable from the App Store, and insiders mention that a lot of employees are left due to all kinds of reasons. In order to win the battle, these companies and app designers need to truly place themselves in users’ shoes and create solutions for their problems. Be patient and smart, the sun will rise after the darkness.
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