Welcome to alpaca country: Before our digital editing, this Berlin hotel room looked less whimsical (see comparison image below)
Am I the only one thinking about The Sims?
New software from Ikea makes it possible to place Swedes' products in virtual rooms and test good and bad furnishing ideas in an uncomplicated way, without having to move furniture.
Using the iPhone app or in the browser, I can plaster alpaca heads over walls and fill rooms with Billy shelves.
Beautifying and aggravating the rooms is tricky, especially on the touchscreen, but typos are quickly corrected: if a sofa seems out of place, I simply move it to the other end of the room or replace it with a new one using the selection menu.
But there are some key differences to filling houses in »The Sims«: Firstly, all the furniture here comes from Ikea.
Secondly, their price is not displayed in the fantasy currency Simoleon, but in dollars.
And thirdly, I stood in all the rooms that I then refurnished on the computer.
It wouldn't have worked any other way.
Ikea Kreativ is the name of the new function, which the furniture store has declared as a mixed reality application, i.e. an application that combines the world of carbon with the possibilities of the digital.
Ikea has integrated the function directly into its shopping app, initially for iPhone users from the USA.
In 2023, the application should also be available in Germany and for Android devices.
Your concept sounds promising and may boost sales for Ikea.
With the help of several photos to be taken in a specific way and the corresponding waving of the mobile phone (see photo gallery), the software captures rooms from which you can then delete all or part of the furniture - in order to then equip the room with Ikea products.
What you like can be ordered online immediately.
There shouldn't be any space problems if the furniture actually arrives: Ikea claims that the iPhone app captures the real size of a room with an accuracy of 97 percent, and that the furniture is inserted in a realistic size.
If you don't have to plan down to the last centimetre, you should be fine.
Does it really work?
The software was mostly convincing in the test
We downloaded and tested the app from the American App Store.
The new feature made a good impression, without performing miracles or being bug-free.
There are always objects that the software does not correctly identify as part of the setup, and they can no longer be removed from the image manually.
Ikea Kreativ is not a Photoshop replacement.
The software, on the other hand, reliably recognizes standard objects such as televisions, sofas or tables.
In the scans of various hotel rooms that I created specifically for the test, the program almost always managed to convincingly empty furnished places.
Thanks to a "Hide-all" button, one click is enough.
The creation of the digital environments is more complex: the scanning process, which supplies the material for a wide-angle, multi-dimensional image, takes about three minutes per room (whereby most of the time is spent watching the same, non-interruptible video instructions and Ikeas cursing developers for it).
The data is then uploaded to an Ikea server, where within another five to ten minutes it is converted into an environment that can be packed with digital furniture.
It can be assumed that the Swedes should learn a lot about the living environments of their customers from all the voluntary scans, especially with regard to room sizes.
However, it is uncertain how much Ikea's data experts will benefit from the knowledge that I have hung up 15 alpaca pictures in one room.
In any case, I will not buy the picture.
In general, the new function is aimed at people who really intend to set up rooms: it doesn't offer features designed exclusively for click fun, it's about serious room planning.
Inserted objects can be rotated virtually and moved in the depth of the room, including size adjustment.
However, it is not possible to view the scenery from a different angle.
Ikea already has an AR app
For the time being, users of an older Ikea app called Ikea Place, which is based on augmented reality, are only able to place 3D objects in space and move around them using a cell phone.
However, Ikea Place contains fewer objects than Ikea Kreativ, and the older app is hardly suitable for planning entire facilities.
The proportions of furniture also look more realistic in the new application.
In order to fully use the possibilities of Ikea Kreativ, you need both an iPhone and a computer.
The smartphone is necessary for room scanning and only the browser version offers the option of placing small things such as alarm clocks or tea light holders on surfaces.
The murals can also only be found there.
Basically, the software contains large parts of the Ikea range, the makers speak of “thousands” of products.
Textiles, kitchen cabinets, wall and ceiling furniture as well as real plants are officially missing and will be delivered later.
The bottom line is that the Swedes' tool gives an interesting impression of what Ikea products would look like in your own room or in a hotel room, combined with the previous furnishings or without them.
Software like Ikea Kreativ would be even more practical if it wasn't just limited to one company's furniture.
The concept is well implemented, but for more creativity and variety in design, the range would have to go beyond the Swedes' products.