IKEA is the world’ largest, self-assemble, flat-pack, furniture company that operates out of 381 huge warehouses in 47 countries.
HTC, a leading smartphone company, make the Vive – a virtual reality system using its own proprietary head mounted display (HMD).
Valve is a leading video games developer best known for Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and many more.
Steam is Valve’s software distribution platform offering gaming titles, multiplayer gaming, and social networking. Its products use the Steamworks Application Programming Interface (API). It has more than 125 million active users and over 10,000 titles on Windows, OS X, and Linux.
Along with French company Allegorithmic, using its Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games, they have developed a VR system that enables customers to virtualise their furniture choices.
“Virtual reality is developing fast 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, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them,” says Jesper Brodin, managing director at IKEA of Sweden and Range & Supply Manager at IKEA Group.
“Australians are known for embracing the latest technology and innovations, so virtual reality has the potential to transform the way people interact with our products in the home. We look forward to hearing our customers’ feedback on the experience as we continue to explore this space in the future”, says Tim Prevade, Range Manager for IKEA Australia.
One of the features of IKEA VR Experience is the possibility to change the colour of cabinets and drawers with a click. Another feature is the ability to shrink yourself and move around the kitchen in the size of a 3.3 foot (100 cm) tall child. You can also enlarge yourself and experience it as 6.4 feet (195 cm) tall. These features will be useful from a safety perspective, since walking around the room in someone else’s shoes enables you to discover hidden dangers.
A smart move by IKEA as it enables customers to try before they buy using lower cost, reasonably available equipment either in store or their home.
VR is the next big thing. According to research firm Gartner, 2016 will see HMDs move towards mainstream adoption among consumers and enterprises.
"New virtual reality HMDs for consumers, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Sony PlayStation VR, and Microsoft HoloLens are expected to be available along with video games and entertainment content as well as business applications critical to their success," said its research director Brian Blau.
"Film producers and sports leagues will augment their traditional content through HMDs to enhance their customer experiences by creating interactive attractions, movies, and sporting events that make the content more personal and meaningful."
Looking further ahead, Garner predicts 26% of HMDs will be designed for business use by 2018, and used for tasks such as equipment repair, inspections, and maintenance.