When you think of retailers that are on the bleeding edge of technology, Ikea isn't usually the one that comes to mind. But then again, it did launch its first ever consumer electronics device earlier this year - an Internet-connected TV that comes with a truly-Ikea style stand to hold it. And now the company is enhancing its mobile technology arm.
Ikea is planning to make its next printed catalog compatible with a smartphone application that will turn it into an augmented reality experience. As pretty much the only retailer where print catalogs are still incredibly important to the business, Ikea prints and ships more than 210 million copies of its annual catalog every year. That's more than 20 times the population of Sweden, where the company is headquartered.
So what is an "augmented reality catalog"? Apparently you'll be able to take your phone, point it toward a piece of furniture in the catalog, and see an "X-ray" depiction of the unit. So you'll get to see what holds the furniture together, but it will also be augmented with links to video clips, 3D models, and digital how-to guides. The paper Ikea catalog isn't going away anytime soon, but the retailer said it really wanted to bring some digital interaction to it.