Designing a home, both inside and out, is a thrilling but difficult process. Many of us love the idea of having a say over design, whether in a home that’s still being built, one that’s being remodeled, or simply one that’s being furnished from scratch. However, once you actually set yourself before an empty room and start plotting out the specifics, it can all become pretty overwhelming pretty quickly. It’s harder than most expect to land on just the right vision, and even harder to bring that vision to life. Inevitably, there’s a lot of trial and error involved.
Now, for some homeowners (or designers for that matter), it’s this process that really makes for most of the excitement. That is to say, some will thrive on the difficulty and enjoy the challenge. Most, however, wouldn’t mind seeing the process simplified a little bit – which is where some very exciting new technology may come into play.
Augmented reality became a legitimate, widespread consumer technology just a couple years ago, and at first there was little thought given to whether or not it might affect home design. For those who may not have come across it or experimented with it just yet, AR allows you to infuse your own reality with virtual elements. You can look through your phone screen, using its camera, and see whatever room you’re aiming said camera at, with virtual augmentations. So, for instance, where home design is concerned, you might be able to look through your phone at an empty room, and picture a realistic, to-scale, 3D rendering of a new couch and coffee table there.
Right now AR is somewhat limited in that using it through a phone is a little cumbersome. It’s still very effective, however, and in the near future it’s expected that AR glasses will be released by major tech companies, bringing a new level of convenience and immersion to the technology. Even now though, there are ways in which phone-based AR is helping to remove the trial and error (and thus the frustration) from home design.
Furnishing & Décor
Astonishingly, home furnishing and décor have actually come to represent a fairly major category in the early augmented reality app market. A whole collection of mobile programs already exists, with each one designed to help a user furnish and decorate a home. Each app is different, but all together they can assist with everything from making a 3D floor plan to choosing specific pieces of furniture, and just about everything in between. It can all seem somewhat surreal, though when you consider where AR is coming from – effectively branching off of virtual reality – it’s actually a fairly natural application.
VR emerged mostly through video games, where any basic interior environment is as complex or more so than the average home floor plan. In other words, a given VR mystery game might place you in a virtual room surrounded by couches and tables, old carpets and paintings on the walls, and all sorts of objects to observe and explore. By contrast, an AR program allowing you to pick pieces for your new living room seems easy!
Garden & Yard Work
Where gardening and yard work are concerned, there may actually have been less precedent in VR. For the most part, VR environments have been comprised of either indoor spaces or complete fantasy lands, with little focus on realistic outdoor spaces. A few adventurous games like The Talos Principle VR do show some fairly ordinary outdoor scenes, and even some simpler games, such as the earliest VR casino adaptation, have touched on vegetative surroundings. Said adaptation is called Gonzo’s Quest, and it’s advanced from being among the popular free games offered by casino sites to becoming the first animated slot reel in VR – complete with the lush surroundings of a fictionalized ancient Peru.
These games constitute a fairly broad spectrum, but do show how virtually rendered plant life can create a fairly immersive and realistic experience – which leads us to the related AR applications. Just like AR can be used to simulate the placement of furniture in a room, it can now be used to help people plan specific features for their yards and gardens. And as in the games just mentioned, some of the effects can be surprisingly realistic, which makes the planning process that much more authentic.
Beyond helping people to virtually place sofas, plants, etc., AR has also proven to be a helpful tool where some of the finer points of design are concerned. Focal Upright Furniture has previously touched on the need to measure dimensions when arranging furniture, and this can be a tedious, difficult, and imprecise process when done with ordinary tools. AR, however, can do it through technology, such that all you really need to do is “scan” a room or object with your phone to get exact measurements. It can take a little getting used to, but it’s ultimately a very simple alternative to traditional measuring, and it can help you make plans for whatever space is at hand that much more precise.
Through these features and capabilities, and likely more to come, AR really is showing the potential to drastically simplify the home and yard design process.