What is Augmented Reality? A quick guide for interior design brands

Find out what is Augmented Reality (AR) and how can it help your interior design business

You have most probably heard the term "augmented reality" be thrown around in the media, and maybe even by friends and colleagues. The technology is on the verge of becoming mainstream but what actually is it and why should you care? Read on to find out all you need to know about AR and its business applications for the home decor industry in under 10 minutes.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

primer augmented reality wallpaper home interiors

Augmented reality is a technology that allows people to view digital content, like images, sounds or text, superimposed over a real-world environment.

Unlike virtual reality (VR), augmented reality is not fully immersive as it does not require you to wear a special headset to submerge you into a fully virtual world.

AR overlays digital information onto real-life objects and spaces. It "augments" the physical world in the user's field of view with digital components.

Recent developments in AR systems have drastically increased the level of realism and accuracy that the technology is able to deliver, as it can now adapt to context and light conditions in real-time.

How is Augmented Reality used?

So far, the technology has been primarily used via AR apps for mobile devices, like iPhone or iPad, but other wearable devices like Apple's AR glasses and Google Glass, as well as HUDs (heads-up displays) and possibly even contact lenses, are also being developed to encourage handsfree use.

Over 1 billion devices support augmented reality today, and by 2022 that number will surpass 3.4 billion.

What are the use cases of Augmented Reality?

Over the last decade, AR has found its way into the everyday life.

You have most likely first seen it in action during the Pokémon Go AR game craze back in 2016, spotted images of Google’s viral AR animals on social media or used Snapchat and Instagram filters.

You may have even heard that a hologram of Tupac Shakur made an appeared on stage with Snoop Dogg at Coachella back in 2012!

As well as being a growing part of mobile entertainment, AR visualizations are proving to be an effective way of improving processes and outcomes across industries, including gaming, healthcare, education and especially eCommerce, where AR is becoming a leading approach to consideration and purchasing.

By simply using a mobile phone, customers can visualize products as virtual objects in the physical world and get a try-before-you-buy experience without the need for changing rooms, samples or even leaving their home!

WannaKicks has built an app that lets Sneakerheads try on shoes virtually. Pinterest launched a make-up preview feature. Warby Parker lets you try on their glasses virtually.

Bikes, cars, jewelry, clothing, laundry machines…nearly any major purchase you can think of is available to preview in AR, including interior design products.

How can Augmented Reality help my interior design business?

When it comes to interior design, so far AR has been manifesting itself in the form of paint color visualizers, or home design apps like IKEA Place, which was one of the first in the industry to allow customers to "try on" furniture in their home.

While AR was primarily a fun new way of marketing and enhancing physical store experience before the pandemic, it is now becoming one of the main sales tools for brands.

Shopping continues to predominantly take place online, with eCommerce growing by 40% since March 2020. So more and more interior designers or homeowners embarking on their next renovation project are using AR as a way to try on products, make more confident design and purchase decisions, and avoid expensive mistakes.

Meanwhile, businesses who have invested in AR early are already seeing a direct impact on their bottom lines, driving anywhere from 40% to 200% increases in conversion rates for eCommerce, with companies like Shopify noting that products with 3D/AR previews saw 94% higher conversion than products without.

As a result, brands big and small are looking to make AR a part of their eCommerce user experience. But what is the best way to go about it?

3 ways interior design brands can adopt AR technology

Augmented reality experiences can be integrated into your home décor business in a number of ways but here are the 3 that you are most likely to find useful:

1. Build your own AR application

While this may be the most obvious option, it's not the most practical as it comes with a lot of financial and technical lift. Plus by asking your customers to leave your website to download an app, you're disrupting their shopping experience and minimising the chances of them actually using your AR functionality.

2. Website integration

Website integration makes AR visualizations accessible directly from your product order pages. The advantage of this approach is that you bring AR to where your potential customers are already considering your products - no extra app download needed. Plus it's fast and easy to implement with just one line of code.

3. Integration with samples and showrooms

This approach adds scannable AR codes to physical product samples or showroom floors so customers can preview products at full scale instantly. Some businesses are going as far as entirely replacing their physical sample programs with digital AR "samples".

Whichever integration option you choose, building your own bespoke AR experience can be extremely costly and difficult to maintain. So we recommend working with an AR studio that can take that financial and technical burden off of your shoulders.

How Primer can help you boost sales with AR

ar augmented reality app home decor interior design

At Primer, we're building an AR platform specifically for the home decor industry.

We will bring AR technology to your brand in a way that feels custom, with an understanding that every product is unique and ensuring that your customers are getting the most accurate product previews possible.

To achieve this level of accuracy, we create extremely detailed virtual 3D models of your products, capturing their exact textures, sheen and finish, then turn them into AR visualizations that take into account the layout and other objects in your home, and adjust to the lighting conditions in real time.

We can make AR visualizations of your products accessible directly with your website, samples and showrooms; create photorealistic CGI product and installation photography, and help you generate more leads by listing your entire product catalog on the Primer AR home design app and marketplace (available on iOS, coming to Android soon).

Right now we’re focusing on wallpaper, paint and tile, and have built partnerships with amazing brands like, Farrow & Ball, clé tile, Eskayel and Scalamandré.

But we'll be expanding our supported categories over the coming months to include flooring, furniture and many other items for the home, and are very excited to collaborate with more brands, big or small.

In 4-6 weeks, Primer can model your entire product catalog, starting from $2/SKU!

Want to know more? Get in touch with a member of our team.