Some prospective buyers can’t recognize a home’s full potential because they aren’t able to picture alternative design schemes. Houzz, an online home design platform and marketplace, has added a new feature to its iOS mobile app that can help house hunters transcend this mental limitation.

  • Given Houzz's popularity, 'View in My Room 3D' could help normalize the use of augmented reality in home decorating.

Some prospective buyers can’t recognize a home’s full potential because they aren’t able to picture alternative design schemes.

Houzz, an online home design platform, has added a new feature to its iOS mobile app that can help house hunters transcend this mental block.

“View in My Room 3D” lets users visualize new furnishings in spaces with their iPhones or iPads — in real time. Homebuyers, owners and real estate agents can use the feature to project 3-D models of items into the camera view of their smartphone or tablet.

Some other apps offer similar functionality, but they usually only run on exotic smartphones. Given Houzz’s popularity, View in My Room 3D could help normalize the use of augmented reality (AR) in home decorating.

By tapping and dragging, users can drop in myriad beds, tables, chairs, sofas and other items, and then move and rotate the items about a room.

“People stage homes to help people visualize how one might live in and decorate that place,” said Sally Huang, who leads Houzz’s visual technology team. “With augmented reality, it’s something you can actually use to very easily and quickly help personalize visually a space.”

The 3-D models, which feature realistic textures and surfaces, automatically resize depending on how users position them in their camera view, shrinking when pushed into a far corner or expanding when pulled within (seemingly) arm’s reach.

The new tool is likely to be very popular with Houzz enthusiasts. Half of the app’s shoppers used the previous version of View in My Room to preview products in their home before purchasing them, according to the firm.

Users can choose from 300,000 items, and create whole new layouts and room designs by adding multiple models to the same space. They can also snap screen shots to save or share certain redesigns, and they may purchase items from inside the app.

Huang sees View in My Room 3D as a tool that agents can use to enhance showings, noting that many agents have iPads — which provide the best experience of the feature.

“It’s just another way to engage with clients before and after a purchase,” Huang said.

With a database of more than 13 million photos, Houzz allows users to hatch design ideas, connect with more than 1.5 million home professionals (including real estate agents) and shop for products.

IStaging also offers an iOS app with a similar AR feature, but Houzz’s app is more user-friendly and versatile.

Some other companies experimenting with AR staging include Rooomy and Wayfair, but the AR features in their mobile apps only work with smartphones that have 3-D mapping cameras, such as the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro

Email Teke Wiggin.

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