Have you ever wanted to see how a new piece of furniture might look in your home before buying it? If IKEA has a say, that may soon be a normal part of your home shopping experience. The Swedish furniture giant just released a virtual reality app that will allow users to explore and customize their kitchen in a whole new way. The program, called the IKEA VR Experience, is part of a pilot meant to test how consumers respond to virtual reality technology.
The new app is available on Steam, a popular video gaming platform and marketplace, and uses an HTC Vive VR headset to immerse users in a life-sized 3D model of three potential test kitchens. Users can explore the different kitchen layouts, viewing it from different perspectives and even changing some of the details of the room, such as the colors of cabinets and drawers. The app was created in collaboration with the French company Allegorithmic, using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4.
Right now, you can’t pick and choose which furnishings to model in the room, although if this app does well, it sounds like that option may become available. Jesper Brodin, managing director of IKEA of Sweden, explained in a recent press release: “Virtual reality is developing quickly and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of people’s lives. We see that virtual reality will play a major role in the future of our customers. For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them.”
Most of us probably don’t have a VR headset at home yet (in the US, the headsets run about $800), but if you happen to be one of the few who does, IKEA wants your feedback. Martin Enthed, IT Manager at IKEA Communications, is encouraging people to submit their ideas on how to improve the company’s VR offerings, saying, “We also see IKEA VR Experience as an opportunity to co-create with people all around the world.” If you have the VR equipment and a computer running Windows 7 or higher, you can try the new app out here. The test will continue to run through August 2016.