IKEA Is Making It Easier to Shop With Virtual Reality

Now you can test out furniture from the comforts of your own home.

Photo by Ikea.com

This might really change the way you shop—especially if you dread the crowds at those huge IKEA warehouses. The Swedish retailer has launched a pilot virtual reality app, the IKEA VR Experience, in which users can test out three differently-designed kitchens through HTC’s Vive headset.

In case you're unfamiliar with virtual reality technology, users wear VR headsets where they can see, “touch,” hear, and basically experience what it’s like to be in a certain environment, from a bustling city like Paris or Tokyo, a jungle or desert, or even fantasy worlds. VR gadgets range from low-end, affordable cardboard devices to higher-end, more expensive models like the Vive (at $799—more than many Ikea sofas), which includes a headset, wireless controllers, and motion-tracking devices. “Virtual reality is developing quickly and in five to 10 years it will be an integrated part of people’s lives,” manager director at IKEA of Sweden and range & supply manager at IKEA Group Jesper Brodin said in a statement. “For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them.”

With the pilot app, users will wear a Vive headset that lets them explore three kitchens—they can explore the layout, change the color of the cabinets and drawers, and view the space from different perspectives (so you see if it works for your six-foot-tall spouse or 3-foot-tall child). Since this is a pilot program and not that many people have access to VR headsets yet, IKEA is hoping those who do try it give plenty of feedback on usage and improvements for future shopping apps.