In this article and video, we explore the benefits of using AR in interior design, including the ability to visualize concepts in real-time and make frictionless revisions. We'll also discuss some of the challenges that come with incorporating AR technology, such as client dissatisfaction and mismatched expectations. Lastly, we'll go through some of the leading softwares in the design and AR space.
If you're a visual learner...
Otherwise, keep reading. Introducing, Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality (otherwise called AR) is a technology that overlays digital content onto the real world, enhancing and augmenting what we see and hear. It’s not the same as Virtual Reality (VR), which creates entirely new, immersive digital environments, like, for example, Meta’s upcoming Metaverse.
AR has been around for a while, but recent advancements in technology have made it more accessible and affordable, and it's being used in a wide range of applications.
One of the most popular examples is in the world of entertainment with Pokémon Go. First launched in 2016, the game overlays digital Pokémon characters onto the real world, allowing players to catch them as if they were really there. Another example is Snapchat's or TikTok’s AR lenses, which use facial recognition to add digital masks and filters to users' faces in real-time.
But AR is not just about entertainment. It has many practical applications, such as helping doctors visualise and plan surgeries, assisting engineers in repairing complex machinery, and providing real-time translation of languages.
AR can also be used to enhance the shopping experience, allowing customers to try on clothes and makeup. In the future, we may see AR used in education to provide immersive learning experiences or in sports to enhance the viewing experience for fans.
The technology behind AR involves computer vision, which allows devices to recognize and track real-world objects, and projection technology, which overlays digital content onto the real world. This is typically done through devices such as smartphones, tablets, or smart glasses.
One of the challenges of AR is creating content that is realistic and immersive. The technology needs to be able to recognize and track real-world objects accurately, and the digital content needs to be seamlessly integrated into the real world. For context on how difficult it is to achieve, CGI experts in high budget films take months or years to create some of the visuals in these movies - only for the result to not be seamless to the human eye.
Another challenge is the limited field of view of current AR devices. While some smart glasses provide a wider field of view, they can be bulky and expensive, making them less accessible to the average consumer. Attempts at integrating glasses into the technological life of consumers have been fraught with failure until now.
Despite these challenges, AR has enormous potential to transform the way we interact with the world around us. As the technology continues to improve and become more accessible, we can expect to see even more innovative and practical applications of AR in the future. And of course, one of them is design.
Augmented reality and interior design
In the past, interior designers would have to rely on sketches, drawings, and physical models to visualise their designs. However, with the advent of AR, designers can now use the technology to create virtual versions of their designs, allowing clients to view and interact with them in a more immersive and realistic way.
AR can be used to create 3D models of rooms or entire buildings, which can be overlaid onto a live video feed of the physical space. This allows designers to visualise their designs in real-time, and make changes on the fly. Clients can also interact with the virtual models, making it easier for them to understand and provide feedback on the design.
One of the most significant benefits of using AR in interior design is that it allows designers to experiment with different styles, colours, and layouts without the need for physical prototypes. This can save a lot of time and money, as designers can quickly iterate and refine their designs based on client feedback. Also, the lack of constraints can help designers be more adventurous and try out new things without fear of losing time.
In addition to helping designers and clients visualise and refine their designs, AR can also be used to enhance the shopping experience for customers. For example, some furniture retailers have already begun to use AR to allow customers to see how a piece of furniture would look in their home before making a purchase. This can be particularly useful for international clients who might not have time for international shopping or sourcing trips with their designers.
Looking to the future, we can expect to see even more advanced uses of AR in interior design. For example, it's possible that AR could be used to create fully immersive virtual environments that allow clients to experience and interact with their designs in a more realistic and immersive way. This can make it clearer for them whether they like or not a design, and thus avoid unnecessary revisions and tough conversations that cost time, money and satisfaction.
Overall, AR has the potential to revolutionise the way that we approach interior design. By allowing designers to create and visualise their designs in new and innovative ways, AR can help to streamline the design process, save time and money, and ultimately create better outcomes for clients.
There are some companies who are already making the most of this kind of technology.
Marxent's flagship product is the 3D Room Designer, which is a cloud-based platform that allows interior designers and furniture retailers to create interactive, 3D room designs that customers can explore in real-time. The technology allows customers and interior designers to visualise products in different colors and configurations, and to place furniture and decor in the room to see how it will look before making a purchase.
The 3D Room Designer is designed to be easy to use, with a drag-and-drop interface and a library of customizable templates. The technology also includes advanced features such as real-time rendering, which allows customers to see changes to the design in real-time, and integration with e-commerce platforms, which allows customers to buy products directly from the platform. Something interesting this platform offers is combining popular Pinterest pictures for inspiration with products provided by their suppliers, which reportedly increases sales.
In addition to the 3D Room Designer, Marxent also offers a range of other AR and VR products and services, including:
- Virtual Reality Product Configurators: Marxent's VR product configurators allow customers to configure and customise products in a virtual environment, providing a more immersive and interactive shopping experience.
- Augmented Reality Product Visualization: Marxent's AR technology allows customers to visualize products in their own space using their mobile devices, allowing them to see how the product will look in their home before making a purchase.
- Virtual Showrooms: Marxent's virtual showrooms allow customers to explore and interact with products in a virtual environment, providing a more immersive and engaging shopping experience.
Houzz is a popular online platform for home design and renovation, connecting homeowners with architects, designers, and contractors. The platform offers a range of services, including a mobile app with an augmented reality (AR) feature that allows users to visualise furniture and decor in their own or their clients’ space.
Houzz's AR feature is called "View in My Room 3D," and it allows users to take a photo of their room and then use AR to place virtual furniture and decor in the space. The technology uses Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore to anchor the virtual items to the real world, allowing users to see how the items will look in their room from different angles and distances.
Users can browse a catalogue of thousands of 3D models of furniture and decor on the Houzz app, and can filter their search by style, colour, and price range. Once they find an item they like, they can select the "View in My Room 3D" option to see how it will look in their own space. They can also adjust the size and placement of the item to get a better sense of how it will fit in the room.
In addition to the AR feature, the Houzz app also includes a range of other tools and features for home design and renovation, including a product catalogue, and a social network for sharing and getting feedback on design ideas.
ARki is an augmented reality (AR) platform for interior design and home decoration that allows users to create and visualise 3D models of furniture and decor in their own or their clients space. The platform is designed to make it easier for users to plan and visualise their home design projects by allowing them to see how furniture and decor will look in their own space before making a purchase.
ARki uses Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore to create a realistic and interactive AR experience. Users can browse a catalogue of 3D models of furniture and decor on the ARki app, and then place and scale the models in their own space using their mobile device. The app also allows users to save and share their designs with others, and to purchase products directly from the app.
ARki is aimed at both homeowners and professionals in the interior design industry. For homeowners, the platform offers a user-friendly and accessible way to experiment with different design options and visualise their ideas in real-time. For professionals, ARki provides a tool for creating and presenting designs to clients in a more interactive and immersive way.
This app is available through IOS.
DecorMatters is a mobile app that allows users to experiment with different interior design ideas and visualise them in 3D using augmented reality (AR) technology. The app is designed to make it easier and more fun for users to plan and execute their home design projects, and to connect with a community of other design enthusiasts for inspiration and advice.
DecorMatters allows users to take a photo of their room and then use AR to place virtual furniture and decor in the space. Users can browse a catalogue of 3D models of furniture and decor on the app and choose items that they like, or they can upload their own 3D models to customise their design. The app also includes a range of design tools and features, such as a colour picker, a mood board, and a floor planner, to help users plan and execute their designs.
One of the unique features of DecorMatters is its social networking aspect. Users can connect with other design enthusiasts on the app and share their designs and ideas, as well as receive feedback and advice from the community. The app also includes a built-in messaging system that allows users to chat with each other and collaborate on design projects.
In addition to its AR and social networking features, DecorMatters also includes a shopping feature that allows users to purchase real-world versions of the virtual furniture and decor that they've placed in their designs. This makes it easy for users to turn their virtual designs into reality and create a cohesive and stylish design for their home.