With advances in technology, savvy entrepreneurs and established companies are offering up innovative interior design tools via smartphones apps to both consumers and professionals.
 
Numerous programs have dotted the landscape using 3D and virtual reality technology to aid in design but another tool picking up steam is augmented reality (AR), which allows users to take photos of a room with their smartphone cameras and overlay the image with virtual items – like the use of social media filters on apps such as Snapchat and Instagram.
 
Earlier this year Apple and IKEA made headlines when Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a partnership with the Swedish RTA furniture maker. According to Bloomberg Businessweek’s exclusive interview with Cook: the “two companies [plan] to collaborate on creating an app that will allow customers to take photos of their own homes, and then position the 3D furniture images where they’d like them to be. The images will be photo-realistic and additionally, IKEA promises that when they launch new products, they will first appear in the AR app.”
 
Houzz View My Room 3D app
 
But IKEA and Apple are not alone in the development of an AR interior design app. Houzz, an online platform for interior and exterior design and home decor, added augmented reality to its View My Room 3D app. Users can apply filters from over 300,000 3D-enable products sold on the Houzz marketplace platform.
 
Search engine behemoth Google is also testing out the AR interior design app market with the 3D Room View app through a partnership with Pottery Barn. Although access to this app is somewhat limited as it only runs on smartphones that use Project Tango technology from Google.
 
genie-AR by Genie Design
 
But it’s not just established brands that are shaking up the market. Several entrepreneurial startups have launched recently or received significant investments for their projects.
In July Genie Design launched a mobile business platform, genie-AR, aimed at the interior design and home décor markets. Available on iOS and Android, Genie Design combines proprietary augmented reality technology, developed by in-house experts over the last 4 years, with a unique business model to provide new features currently not offered by any other visualization tool, the company says.
 
The app offers a patented solution that addresses challenges faced by home furnishing manufacturers, retailers and consumers, including:
• Manufacturers and vendors are unable to showcase their products in a personalized way
• Consumers can’t envision how a product will look in the space, which results in buyer’s remorse, higher return rates, and loss of potential sales
• The purchasing process is slow, repetitive and fragmented over multiple websites, magazines, catalogs, stores and showrooms
 
According to the company, the benefits of the Genie app are that it streamlines the prevailing business model and brings all sectors of the industry into one centralized interactive marketplace with the following features: patented technology that combines augmented reality, proprietary IP, mobile, cloud applications, e-commerce systems and behavioral analytics.
 
Here’s how it works:
• Manufacturers and retailers can make their entire catalogs available for the end user, turning every room into a showroom
• Users can visualize a great variety of products from multiple vendors in their spaces in real time and to scale, eliminating guesswork and design errors, and
• Genie’s platform increases engagement, communication and transparency, provides business analytics and simplifies sharing of projects and data
 
For more information, visit genie-ar.com.
 
Once featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, Hutch Interiors offers another AR interior design app. The company recently received a $10 million investment from Zillow Group, a large real estate services firm. The investment will be used to accelerate product development and growth of the company’s home design app and functionality.
 
Hutch is an interior design media and m-commerce company that is re-imagining how to conceptualize decor by using on-demand filters to decorate spaces. Created with proprietary photo technology, Hutch builds a virtual rendering of the user’s personal space (cleared of furniture) to begin the design process. The app focuses on visualization, allowing users to see their rooms through distinct design filters such as Malibu Luxe, Scandinavian Summer and Tropic Glam.
 
The filters are curated by a network of designers and each product within the filter is shoppable directly through the app.
 
As part of the investment, Spencer Rascoff, Zillow Group’s chief executive officer, will join Hutch’s board of directors.
 
“A huge hurdle both renters and buyers face is envisioning themselves in a new home,” Rascoff says. “By investing in Hutch, we are enabling breakthrough innovation that enhances online home shopping and design experiences. Hutch’s augmented reality technology has the potential to be transformative to the home shopping process and we are excited for the opportunity to help them grow.”
 
If the recent developments in technology are any indication, the market is headed towards tremendous growth. To learn more about AR, visit 9to5mac.com/guides/augmented-reality.