Tag Archives: Augmented Reality

Pinterest, Instagram And The Future Of Furniture Retail

POST WRITTEN BY

Beck Besecker

Co-founder and CEO of Marxent, the leader in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for homes, furniture and spaces.

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Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz and Google Image Search hold massive power when it comes to brand discovery and the formation of product preferences. Just ask direct-to-consumer furniture companies like Article, Maiden Home and Interior Define.The influence of lifestyle imagery on purchase behavior is stunning. According to Pinterest (via SocialMediaToday), 83% of all women in the United States ages 25-54 visit Pinterest. Of that total, 43% of those visits are related to purchases for the home within the next five years.

This endless stream of inspirational photos is easily curated by consumers into boards or lists that illustrate the idea of a perfect kitchen, a perfect living room, a perfect lifestyle, a perfect future.

The new ‘location, location, location’ is personalization

It’s true that physical location still matters. Retailers have to be where the eyeballs are, but those eyeballs are increasingly on Instagram and Pinterest searching photos that illustrate the possibilities, seed ideas and help refine their tastes. How do these images translate into sales? Good question.

Photos provide inspiration, but what shoppers really want is to explore how the products featured in photos fit into their lives. In most cases, that means advanced personalization — the tailoring of the experience to the individual customer. It’s one reason my company created Photo to Floorplan, a design method which allows shoppers to look at an inspirational photo, tap on the items they like and have them instantly populate the floor plan of their real-world space.

The use of high-quality visual content translates into sales. For example, Pinterest reports (via AdWeek) that people who engage with Promoted Pins spend seven times more than people who don’t. But what comes after inspiration? Instagram recently introduced a feature that lets users buy the items seen in photos, and Pinterest Pins and Instagram posts can now be curated and made shoppable with platforms like Curalate. That’s a good start but it’s only the beginning.

The answer is clear: Let shoppers design from photos and give them the power to control the journey.

Inspiration is where purchases start, not where they end

We all know that vertical visual search engines like Zillow, Houzz and Pinterest are helping shoppers to envision their perfect future before they ever enter a store. I’ve used this technology myself, and I’m assuming most of you have as well. In a recent study conducted by MFour Mobile Research (via AP News), “Two-thirds of millennials prefer to research significant purchases online.”

The natural next step for complex kitchen and home projects is to translate inspirational photos into relevant, personalized designs. This can be as easy as selecting a style profile, finding a photo or collection of photos that resonate and adding the items from the photos directly into a custom floor plan.

Traditional visual merchandising and photos both leave users with questions like “will it fit?” or “will it work?” Inspirational photos on their own do the same. That’s why owning the design phase has long been the holy grail for furniture and kitchen retailers — it is essential to clinching the sale and reducing returns.

Examples of companies already using high-quality visual content and translating it into sales include Ikea, whose Ikea Place app allows shoppers to place 3D products in their homes via augmented reality, and Macy’s (a Marxent partner), which is using an in-store 3D room planner and virtual reality showroom installation to sell furniture.

What comes next?

Inspirational shopping trends extend far outside the world of furniture, with 3D visualization tech now in use in fashion, beauty, apparel and more. Zara, Nordstrom, Gap, Sephora and others are experimenting with visual virtual try-on and shopping services. Ben and Jerry’s is deconstructing their flavor profiles with gorgeous Instagram posts. Nike is taking a more wide-ranging approach, using augmented reality to not only offer virtual try-on services but to create exclusive, geo-targeted shopping experiences. And across the pond, French fashion house Balmain is using CGI models — in this case, computer-generated people depicted wearing the brand’s fashions — to market clothing.

With shopping journeys now more likely to start and end on mobile devices instead of in stores, designing directly from photos is a great way to give the customer control of the process. Augmented and virtual reality are taking these shoppers from inspiration to action.

Allowing customers to unleash their creativity and ensure that they love their purchases through design by photo provides a new level of personalization through inspiration. Major retailers that want to preserve their edge both online and in stores are using it to deliver the combination of inspiration and personalization that consumers crave.

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3-D spaces, augmented reality and the transformation of interior design

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2017/12/19/augmented-reality-and-the-changing-face-of-shopping.html

Choosing furnishings to decorate a room can be a time-consuming, expensive and haphazard task. Just because a mirror, table or chair looks nice in the store doesn’t necessarily mean it will fit in your front room or go with the wallpaper.

roOomy, which has offices in the U.S., the Netherlands and China, is using augmented reality (AR), virtual reality and 3-D technology to change the way people visualize homes and spaces.

Continue reading 3-D spaces, augmented reality and the transformation of interior design

Augmented Reality: the Latest in Real Estate Technology

Stephanie Small spent months thinking about what kind of countertop to get for a new wine bar she will soon open with a partner in Somers, N.Y., part of Westchester County.

Besides mulling over the durability and price, Ms. Small thought long and hard about how the 16-foot bar would look, not just in the inside, but through the window from the outside. “I spent hours trying to visualize things and I just couldn’t,” she said.

Then a friend who worked for Cambria, a countertop manufacturer based in Eden Prairie, Minn., told her about the firm’s new augmented reality app, which lays digital images on top of the real world when people look through a smartphone lens.

After downloading the app onto her cellphone, she pointed the device to where the counter would be installed. An image of the bar appeared in its intended spot and she quickly realized that one of her most recent picks — a dark gray marble top — would look too much like the concrete floor. “It was remarkable to see it in the real space,” she said. “It changed my whole vision.”

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Pandora Reality, an augmented reality developer, builds tools for brokers and developers who want to show the potential of an unfinished space. CreditPandora Reality

Although the technology behind augmented reality has been around for years, the average consumer had little to do with it until last summer, when Apple released ARKit, a tool kit that allows developers to make augmented reality apps. Then Apple also made its latest operating system augmented reality compatible, suddenly allowing millions of people to use any augmented reality tool available through the app store.

Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based augmented and virtual reality adviser, predicted that by the end of 2018, there could be as many as 900 million smartphones and tablets capable of supporting augmented reality apps created from tool kits like Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore and Facebook’s Camera Effects. And that number could grow to more than three billion by 2021.

At the moment, developers are creating simple tools. For example, MeasureKit is essentially a digital ruler, while PLNAR helps a user take dimensions of a room to create a floor plan. And Homesnap, a real estate search engine, has a “Walk the Property Lines” tool that shows the property lines around any home.

When you’re able to swap or move images at a push of a button, you can convey the “what-ifs instantaneously” to clients, making the decision-making process quicker, said Matthew Miller, the founder of StudioLAB, a Manhattan architectural and design firm.

With new technology, it’s all about the ease of use, said Brian Peters, chief marketing officer at Cambria. “I made sure both my 12-year-old daughter and my 41-year-old wife were able to use the app,” he said.

Augmented reality is also helpful for home-goods manufacturers who need to send out samples or swatches, Mr. Peters said. “We think our customers will be able to narrow their choices further on the app, before requesting a sample.”

Michael Schroeder, the director of virtual design and construction at SGA, an architectural and design firm with offices in New York and Boston, said that augmented reality could also help fill a major data gap for developers. For example, a tool could be created to show traffic patterns at a building site, or another could depict the texture of various building materials, which a developer could then quickly change on an iPad as while walking around a raw space.

 

“There’s a lot of data that architects and builders need to assess at the design phase and changes are made constantly,” he said. “If I’m able to stand at the site and see the shadow impact a building has on the surrounding area, it might alter the height of the building.”

To help builders and engineers, Daqri, a Los Angeles-based augmented reality firm, has been promoting its Smart Helmet, where augmented reality glasses are part of the construction helmet. The helmet allows the user to see data about machinery, including a generator’s rotation speed and when it was last inspected. It also has a thermal camera, which shows the temperature of pipes. Colleagues in a remote location can also see a repair as it happens and send instructions, if needed.

Clelia Warburg Peters, the president of Warburg Realty, thinks augmented reality has the possibility to become a key tool in the home-buying process. Virtual reality, which has been used by brokers to entice customers to buy homes in faraway cities, conveys what the builder wants to show. However, augmented reality puts the buyer in the actual space, which can take people from the, “‘what is’, to the ‘what it could be,’” she said.

“Buying a home can be very emotional. If you can change and personalize things, it can help with the decision-making process,” she added.

Pandora Reality, an augmented reality developer based in New York and Istanbul, builds augmented reality tools for brokers and developers who want to show the potential of an unfinished space. Alper Guler, Pandora’s head of operations in the United States, thinks real estate marketers could use technology to help keep their client’s attention.

“Home buying is a weekslong process. You can keep clients engaged with augmented reality much more than a link to a website,” he said.

One current drawback, experts said, is the lack of realism of the computer-generated image. They still look too fake, Mr. Miller said.

“I think augmented reality will find a large audience when people can’t tell the difference between the real thing and the computer-generated image,” he said. “But I’m sure that’s right around the corner, like all things tech.”

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