Furniture retailer Ikea has launched a pilot virtual reality app for the HTC Vive which enables users to explore and customise a virtual Ikea kitchen. The app is timed to match the release of the Vive headset, which has been eagerly anticipated by VR fans.
The Ikea VR Experience is built using the Unreal Engine 4, typically used for video games, and enables users to change the cabinet and drawer colours for three different kitchen layouts, and explore the virtual environments from the height of either an adult or child.
"VR is developing quickly and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of people's lives," said Jesper Brodin, managing director of Ikea Sweden and range & supply manager for the Ikea Group. "We see that virtual reality will play a major role in the future of our customers. For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them."
The Ikea VR Experience is relatively limited in terms of functionality at the moment, especially compared to the other 3D planning tools that Ikea has developed, which enable users to design and visualise rooms with fittings and furniture down to the millimeter, but as an initial foray into virtual reality, it is an excellent example of how brands can begin to explore the potential marketing applications that VR has for their business.
"We also see Ikea VR Experience as an opportunity to co-create with people all around the world," said Martin Enthed, IT manager for Ikea Communications. "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."
The app is available for free on digital platform Steam, and will be continuously updated until the pilot test period comes to an end in August.