I’m a fan of interior design. My ‘home décor’ Pinterest board is filled with beautiful contemporary pieces that I have been pinning, collecting some inspo for those wistful one days. So you can imagine my excitement when my aunt mused over redesigning her home. She was worried about the disparity of how furniture looked in the showroom and at her home, and whether the items she wanted would fit in her space.

I took the chance to introduce her to two new appliance Augmented Reality (AR) apps, Breville AR and Hisense Home AR, among other home design apps. The use of AR is still relatively new in the retail industry and my aunt queried, “Will I need to wear some kind of gadget thingy on my head?”. From a technical perspective, modern Augmented Reality uses SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping) technology which allows consumers to realistically scan their surroundings and virtually overlay objects such as furniture or appliances in the environment. The best part is that all you need is a mobile phone and to download an app – no “gadget thingy” required. You can explore various styles, colors and sizes to see how the items fit in your space, taking the guesswork out of furnishing. Developers have also created the items to be visually accurate in size and dimensions, giving you a solid representation of the items.

We started with the kitchen counter. My aunt is a big fan of Breville’s espresso machines, so she picked out the Bambino Plus and placed it on the bench. The machine looked surprisingly realistic beside her own appliances. She swiped through the color options and settled on the black truffle piece, stepping back to admire her new coffee machine.

“Look at the level of detail on this thing,” she said as she hovered around the counter with her device. “You can see the grain on the stainless steel – it makes it look so real!” I showed her how she could move the item around the counter with one finger and rotate it using two fingers.

With the Bambino Plus in place, my aunt was eager to check explore the other features. “Can I try more than one item at a time? What if the colors clash?” I demonstrated how she could set an item down and add another within the same space. She added the Soft Top Luxe kettle from the Luxe Collection and took her time arranging her virtual appliances on the counter. It was like watching someone play The Sims in real life. Some of the items were so realistic that after arranging them, we almost wondered where they disappeared to when we weren’t looking at the iPad screen. Luckily, the Breville AR app also has a camera function that saves your snaps straight to your device’s camera roll.

We tested the Hisense Home AR app next, which had an interesting AI feature – giving product recommendations tailored to our space. We used the in-built AR measuring feature to measure our space (you can also manually input your measurements), and the app recommended six refrigerators to choose from. Alternatively, we could browse the products by category – French Door, Top/Bottom Mount, Freezer etc.

Next, we moved onto TVs and the app suggested options based on the viewing distance from our couch. We went big and placed a 75” TV, using the slider to mount it on our wall (the legs intelligently disappeared for wall placement) but eventually settled on a 65” as it matched our entertainment unit better. Just for kicks, my aunt asked if she could compare multiple TV’s side by side and laughed, “I could even build my own TV showroom!” I told her that this feature would be great, but pointed out her lack of loungeroom space, regardless.

At the end of the process, we both agreed that furnishing with AR was very entertaining and quite practical for particular items. My aunt joked that she felt an “odd sense of emptiness” after she closed the app and her virtual products disappeared. I smiled and explained that there would be an easy solution for that. We scheduled a time to visit a department store the next day.

Author: Alicia Ng

Alicia is a marketing & communications contributor. She enjoys writing, augmented reality and retail technology.

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