Collaborating on IKEA’s Virtual Kitchen
The virtual reality-kitchen, IKEA VR Experience, was released today on Steam. The app has been created in collaboration with Allegorithmic, using Unreal Engine, and has been developed for HTC Vive. This is a pilot test exploring new ways to empower customers without increasing the impact on the environment. In the future it could be an opportunity for customers to try new kitchen solutions before they buy them.
Why IKEA and virtual reality?
“Virtual reality is developing fast and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of people’s life. 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.
One of the features of IKEA VR Experience is the possibility to change color of cabinets and drawers with a click. Customers can also shrink themselves and move around the kitchen in the size of a 3.3 foot (100 cm) tall child. They can also enlarge themselves and experience the kitchen at a height of 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 one to discover hidden dangers.
“We also see IKEA VR Experience as an opportunity to co-create with people all around the world. We hope that users will contribute to our virtual reality development, by submitting ideas on how to use virtual reality and how to improve the virtual kitchen,” says Martin Enthed, IT Manager for IKEA Communications, the in-house communication agency at IKEA of Sweden.
Why Allegorithmic and VR?
As VR evolves rapidly to power new retail, marketing, bespoke, and creative experiences, brands are taking the lead in creating new ways of interacting with customers. Allegorithmic provides a key part of the technology brands need to create immersive VR sensations with textured scenes and assets.
In late 2014, Allegorithmic created a department in charge of exploring VR projects. This has opened doors to collaborating with companies from sectors as diverse as luxury goods, transportation, consumer goods, and the automotive industry. Each project requires months of R&D and pushes the development team to find innovative responses to the new technical challenges of VR and 3D in general.
While brands want to create new experiences, differentiate themselves through new communications strategies, or sell products differently to keep pace with ever-changing marketplaces, we find that these projects are equally valuable for driving our own innovation. IKEA VR Experience is the first one of this series, and we are looking forward to telling you about others in the coming weeks.