There are plenty of reasons for game developers and film makers to get excited about virtual reality but apparently retailers are excited by its possibilities too, if IKEA’s launch of its very own virtual reality experience for HTC Vive on Steam’s VR store is anything to go by.
At the moment the experience is just a short experiment, so you won’t get to wander around the store for hours, using your sense of smell to try and find where they sell the hot dogs without having to leave the comfort of your own home just yet. Instead, you’ll find yourself exploring a kitchen where you’ll be able to customise surfaces and interact with the environment. You can even change your height to that of a child to get a sense of how they might feel running through the room you’re designing. That drawer looked great where it was until you realised it was the perfect height to knock out a careening four-year-old.
It’s pretty exciting to see a company jump into exploring the possibilities of VR as quickly as this because there’s no doubt virtual and augmented realities will one day have a massive impact on how we shop. For retailers like IKEA, especially, allowing customers to explore a space and get a feel of how items might look in their own home, catching any design flaws by adjusting the size of the space could be a real selling point. It’ll also mean encountering less measuring tape wielding aspiring Grand Design stars when you visit the physical shop to stock up on cheap cups and meatballs. Jesper Brodin, managing director at IKEA of Sweden, thinks virtual reality has a lot to offer consumers:
“Virtual reality is developing quickly and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of people’s lives. 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.”
As the experience is just a small experiment at the moment, IKEA are looking for feedback from users in order to make improvements. Considering how enthralled we are just by being able to explore a kitchen, it’s safe to say we’re excited to see where retail companies could take VR next.