How to try furniture without leaving home

Retailers are adopting Aussie-made software that allows shoppers to test out furniture in their homes without stepping out the front door.

Australian-made software that allows shoppers to use augmented reality to superimpose furniture on their home living spaces and see what it would look like is being eyed by retail giants.

Sydney-born baby and children’s furniture provider Boori, which has stores across six countries and a factory in China, is already using StyleFit, while Melbourne-founded Johnny’s Furniture, which also has stores in Sydney and Brisbane, is going live with the technology this week.

It’s been a long road for StyleFit co-founders Brendon Ha and Benjamin Gregory, who have been tinkering with AR since 2012, but they now hope to add two major Australian retailers to their client list, with both exploring the possibilities.

For now, Mr Gregory and Mr Ha are keeping the names of those big players under wraps while they work to bed down deals.

The idea for the product came to them when they were both struggling to make decisions while shopping for furniture, finding it frustrating and time consuming when showrooms did not have the particular fabric or piece they wanted to complement their freshly renovated homes.

Staff would lug out big books of fabrics and flip through catalogues to go over the measurements, but it would still be difficult to imagine what the item would look like in the home.

It wasn’t any easier searching on the web, as online furniture stores only had static pictures to show their customers from staged scenes in digitally generated rooms.

Augmented reality seemed like the ideal solution.

But it has taken a long time to refine, given the process of creating convincing images is a lot harder than most people think.

“There’s essentially 150 photos or still shots that we’ve done to make that piece turn on an axis,” Mr Ha told NCA NewsWire.

That was previously cost prohibitive.

“COVID helped because it created a demand and our team has obviously got the skills set, and then we’ve been able to combat that with a price that has worked,” Mr Ha said.

Mr Gregory said furniture and homewares sales were expected to continue to be staggering this year, as the pandemic-sparked home-sprucing trend continued.

StyleFit is exploring using its technology for a jewellery company, a bespoke suit firm and a national carpet retailer.

“It’s a pretty cool technology – once we’ve nailed it, then the applications are kind of endless,” Mr Ha said.

The company assures shoppers the images of their home interiors will not be data mined for marketing purposes.

“The only data we do mine is … if they’re (the retailer) seeing that people are using the blue chair more than the yellow, they’ll pick up on those trends,” Mr Ha said.

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