In 2017 IKEA launched a Mixed Reality mobile app that lets customers drop virtual furniture into their own homes and view it through their smartphone camera. Nothing new, retailers had been trying technology like this at the start of the decade but this time it was done much better than previous attempts by retailers. The quality of imagery and the realism is exceptional.
IKEA Place was one of the very first mobile shopping apps to take advantage of ARKit. ARKit is Apple's augmented reality framework that lets developers use the smartphone's motion sensors and cameras to overlay digital elements on the real world.
The critical factor that will determine the long term viability and success of future mixed reality shopping applications like Ikea Place is the cost of capturing imagery which has always been the inhibitor in the past. IKEA had the advantage of being an own brand retailer - they already had 3D captures of all the products in the catalogue.
Smartphones are now fundamental to the buying journey for most customers today which means the ROI might just be there now for all home furniture retailers.