April’s High Point Market is always abuzz with new trends and beautiful collections launching for the first time. Among the designs and decor of this year’s April High Point Market was the dull roar of the technology changes. Ron Gordon, Senior Vice President of Technology, walked the seminar attendees through Augmented Reality shopping at High Point Market.
The seminar started with this statistic:
“Worldwide revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $162 Billion in 2020. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 181.3% over the 2015-2020 forecast period.”
Augmented Reality and the 3D technology trend is not approaching the furniture industry—it is already here.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
First of all, what is Augmented Reality?
We’ve talked about how Augmented Reality has improved the shopping experience. In April, Ron Gordon’s seminar broke down the very basics of this complex concept.
Read our blog about how Augmented Reality (AR) has improved the shopping experience.
Augmented Reality blends the real world experience with computer generated additions. Today, we can see AR in military training, automotive intelligence, cell phone technology, like Snapchat, even gaming. AR burst onto the mainstream with the launch of the viral Augmented Reality game, Pokemon Go, in 2014. Now Augmented Reality shopping has arrived in the furniture industry.
Yet, how can you achieve Augmented Reality? Ron Gordon explains that there are 3 elements to enable Augmented Reality today.
- Static Image
- Dynamic Image
- Add in Digital 3D Models
How AR Changes Product Presentation Expectations
“See it in Your Space” – Target
That’s the tagline for how Augmented Reality has essentially shifted the product presentation experience for consumers. Shoppers want a personalized shopping experience in the store and at home. With convenience being the modus operandi, retailers and manufacturers are feverishly working to achieve this personalization through augmented shopping.
Augmented Reality shopping is a complex feature for many in the furniture industry to grasp. As a result, Ron Gordon reviews the basics to give everyone the essential understanding of this complicated visualization software. As a retailer or a manufacturer, your options are nearly endless with the right provider. What we once deemed the “future of retail” has quickly become the standard that many are quick to adopt in one format or another. With connectors to your website and shopping cart, Augmented Reality has earned its place in the omnichannel retail strategy.
How Augmented Reality Shopping Works
Photo-Based Augmented Reality
Most noteworthy, a static photo is the most simple form of augmented reality shopping. A consumer would be able to take a photo of their room (the static image) and then use digital 3D assets to decorate the static or dynamic space.
Video Camera-Based Augmented Reality
In addition to photo-based augmented reality, the show stopper for shoppers is the video camera based augmented reality. Ron Gordon demonstrated in real time how a smartphone or tablet can render the same process of augmented reality shopping used in photo-based AR but using dynamic rooms. The process is incredibly simple and elegant.
- Using a smart device, open an Augmented Reality application
- Point your device’s camera in the area you want to style with furniture
- Drag or insert digital 3D assets from a library on the application
You can move, spin, and design the room in real time by watching the phone or tablet screen for your augmented room. As Ron mentioned in his seminar, it seems like many retailers and home furnishings resources have embedded augmented reality for consumers.
- IKEA Place
- 3D Room View by Pottery Barn
- Jerome’s Furniture Warehouse
Virtual Reality, An Immersive Experience
What is Virtual Reality? Ron talks about the immersive experience of Virtual Reality in the last half of this seminar at High Point Market. This completely computer simulated world intends to fool the mind with alternative sensory inputs. Virtual Reality (VR) is challenging for so many to understand. In the room at High Point Market, many have heard about VR and some even tried MicroD’s Virtual Reality demonstration at the 2017 Fall High Point Market. VR is, by definition, a Computer Generated environment that uses headsets that generate realistic images and other sensations that simulate the user’s presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.
So, how can you achieve Virtual Reality?
- Headset “Seeing is Believing”
- Motion Tracking
- Binocular Vision
- Interactivity: Gestures
- Stereo Audio
- What you experience is a 3D Room with 3D Digital Models
While AR is readily available and a useful utility for consumer shopping in the furniture industry, VR still has a place to grow into the scalable functionality that AR has today. Because it isn’t mission critical today, it may not be a top business priority. It is the next stage of the consumer shopping experience, therefore, don’t sleep on VR.
Spotlight in Casual Living
Alex Milstein is no stranger to emerging technologies in the furniture industry.
Alex stopped by the High Point Market seminar hosted by Ron Gordon and wrote about his take on the seminar.
“To start with AR, retailers need 3-D models of the furniture that they can place in the AR program. How they go about getting these models is different for every company, Gordon said, but it’s not always easy, and it’s not inexpensive. One 3-D model can cost up to $200. While some manufacturers offer 3-D models to their retailers, Gordon said if retailers want to try to do it on their own they should make a few 3-D models and test out AR in the store to see if it’s worth the investment.”
-Alex Milstein, Casual Living
Augmented Reality Shopping of the Present
In conclusion, this is only the starting point. Milstein summarized Ron Gordon’s seminar takeaways in his article about the Seminar for Augmented Reality:
These are the steps Gordon suggested taking if you want to get into AR/VR:
- Start with 3-D models. First of all, try 50 at first and see if the technology is driving business. Alternatively, talk with your manufacturing partners about having them create the 3-D models.
- Offer AR. Furthermore, in this step, you offer an AR program where a customer can place one or two pieces of furniture in a room using a tablet or phone.
- Provide 3-D room planning. This is the next step for AR—being able to design an entire room using 3-D models of furniture, accessories, wall décor and more.
- Showcase in-store VR: If you’ve seen AR have an effect on sales, it might be time to move on to in-store VR. Gordon says you’ll need a 10-by-10-foot space to allow the customer to move when using the technology.
- 3-D walkthrough video: The final piece is being able to design an entire room in VR and then having the consumer walk around as if it were their own space. Then they can take a video of it and view it without the headset. This is as close to designing and walking around a room as it gets with this technology.
Ron Gordon, MicroD