Ikea Just Released a VR App on Steam, Company Hopeful for VR Shopping

Virtual reality will play a "major role" in Ikea's future over the next 5-10 years, company says.

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Furniture company Ikea today announced and launched a virtual reality app on Steam. Described in a press release as a "pilot virtual reality app," Ikea VR Experience for the HTC Vive allows players to virtually explore a kitchen. They can walk around and interact with objects "just like you were there."

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Users can also change the look of the kitchen by switching materials, while there are options to view the kitchen from the perspective of a 3'3" child or 6'4" adult.

"Find the drawers that can be opened. Pick up a frying pan and place it on the stove," reads a line from the app's description. "Recycle the vegetable skins in the waste sorting station."

Ikea added that it expects users will spend around 5 minutes in the app, and again, it is a pilot program of sorts, and it will be supported only through August 2016. Users are encouraged to submit feedback to Ikea through VRDevelopment@IKEA.com.

"The launch of the app is intended to solicit consumer feedback as Ikea continues to explore the possible implications of the technology for the home," the company said. "In recent years, Ikea has explored new technology as a way to improve its offer and empower customers. The launch of Ikea VR Experience is one of the steps taken in this effort."

In a statement, Ikea managing director Jesper Brodin said the VR market, in the next five to 10 years, will be "an integrated part of people's lives." He added that VR stands to play a "major role" in Ikea's future as it relates to offering new consumer experiences.

"For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them," he explained.

Ikea built the VR app in partnership with 3D content creation company French company Allegorithmic. It was made using Epic's Unreal Engine 4. There is no word yet on if it will be released for other VR platforms such as Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR.

Though gaming is at the heart of virtual reality, it is clear that the technology's non-gaming potential applications are massive as well. Being able to virtually shop for Ikea furniture is just one example.

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