With the advent of ARKit, apps that can place virtual furniture in a real room have become nearly a universal practice for furniture retailers, with Pottery Barn being the latest to join the fray.
While it might seem as though Pottery Barn is playing catch-up with the likes of IKEA, Amazon, and Houzz, but Pottery Barn's 3D Room Design is a port of their Android app released in March for Google Tango devices. Sadly, that version of the app garnered less than 50 downloads, hopefully, the ARKit version will do a little better.
In releasing the app for iOS, Pottery Barn can bring over one key feature that their competitors don't have — space clearing. In addition to being able to place virtual furniture alongside their existing furniture, customers can digitally erase their existing furniture by reconstructing a virtual version of the room.
In the Tango version, the app was able to accomplish this by using the device's depth sensors to mark the floor and walls. Using ARKit, the app scans for the floor then asks the user to mark the base of each wall manually. We were able to compare the experience for each platform, and the execution is clearly not as precise with ARKit as it is with Tango. However, users can still get a general sense of how the room layout will work.
For the ARKit version, Pottery Barn is afforded some improvements over the original version. For instance, customers can place either pre-set looks or mix and match individual pieces into one room, while the Tango version only offers to view furniture within one collection. The user interface is simplified in the newer app, making it easier to rearrange the virtual furniture. The iPhone edition also lets users view pieces in different colors and also adjust the material textures for the walls and floors.
In both versions, users can capture images their previewed selections, but the ARKit edition offers a corner and top-down view of the synthesized scene. Also, while both apps enable customers to add the pieces to their shopping cart for purchase, users can also generate a PDF of their choices in the iOS version.
The app's release comes on the heels of the acquisition of Outward, the app's developer, by Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn's parent company, for $112 million.