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NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 2015

Augmented Reality Furniture

Going to The Next Level: New WebGL Features

As we predicted in the 2015 trends, WebGL is - after years of promise - finally making its way to the online visualisation solutions this year. While some of the developments (e.g. Unity 5 platform capabilities and consistent support in various web-browsers) have certainly been slower than we would had liked them to be, the time to move to next level of visualisation has now arrived.
The most significant new capabilities the Unity 5 WebGL platform brings to the interior visualisation are the support for non-plugin web-interface, real-time global illumination based on the Geomeric's Enlighten technology, physically-based shaders, high dynamic range sky-boxes, and reflections. Besides taking the realism of virtual-reality interiors to the next level these new capabilities further increase the quality of the surface and material visualisation, blurring the difference between reality and virtual.

Extending our lead in the interior visualisation solutions we have started to roll-out these new capabilities in our premium platform version in this quarter. (The images in this newsletter are samples of the next level of virtual-reality visualisation).

Use Case: 'People Like You'

Affinity and association rule learning based online recommendation systems, such as market basket analysis with Apriori-algorithm, are well understood and widely used in the e-commerce environments. However, when these methods are applied in furniture retail several challenges emerge. While it is relatively easy to collect significant amounts of data and make accurate predictions on a single item for the frequently purchased consumer items, like books and apparel, the furniture retail recommendation systems face exactly same challenge as that "traditional" furniture salesman: lack of information about the customer's home environment and personal styling. Whilst some things, like the most popular fabric choices and combinations can be recommended with over a 80% probability, without an understanding of the customer's home (room size, items, colour schemes) it is close to impossible to go beyond this, let alone "fill the room" with your products.

VividPlatform changes the way recommendations can be made. When the customer creates a model of his/her home (possibly with photos) the size, colour schemes and other items in the room are known and the recommendations can be generated based on the real customer environment (e.g. association rules between other shoppers' behaviour, environment, and interior designer "lookbook"). As the information is permanently stored in the retailer's systems and integrated to the CRM, the same recommendation engine can also be used for generating targeted and relevant marketing to the consumers, e.g. recommend a new sofa table that fits the customer living room and matches the colour schemes and styles, enabling the retailer's brand to remain relevant to the consumer between all their purchases.

Montana's New Online Ordering System With VividPlatform

In the past, when their customers were building modular configurations or customising furniture items, it was always a challenge to ensure that the customers were given the right price information and that the customised combinations complied with all product constraints and production requirements. In order to solve these issues, Montana has now invested in a new system which, in addition to giving the consumers an intuitive way to customise and visualise their furniture, supports direct ordering and fully integrates with Montana's back-office, ERP, and production systems. By implementing the full design-to-purchase capability the newly deployed system ensures that the customer's furniture, whether created online or in shop, is always built with the right components and that the human errors and labour costs are minimised throughout the whole process, from order to delivery. - 'Most important for us is that the customer gets the right price. It is essential in our order handling' says the CFO of Montana, Christer Mysling.

Montana has used various drawing applications in their shops for a long time and in that respect the migration to the new platform is more an evolution than a revolution. However, the new platform provides several possibilities which have not been available for Montana previously. By moving from the offline systems to a homogeneous online platform Montana ensures that the shops and consumers have always access to the latest information on the products, availability, and pricing. Furthermore, as the same information is available across the different channels and touch-points, the Montana showrooms are "extended" into the consumers' own homes, giving the customers the option of starting their designs at home and visualising the furniture items as part of their their own interior as they go (Augmented Reality), before visiting the Montana stores or deciding on the purchase.

In the first phase Montana is focusing on replacing the old systems functionality with the new online platform and, once up and running, will continue to exploring the many new features enabled by it. - 'The new system has more facilities than the old one but we are at the very start so this has so far not been our focus. For us it will be, first and foremost, a professional tool for ensuring that we produce the right solution at the right price' says Christer Mysling.