Houzz adds a basic AR mode to its iOS apps to help you shop for furniture

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Mark Thompson, CEO and president of The New York Times Company, to talk shop at Disrupt

Shopping for furniture online is often difficult, especially given that you can’t really know how a sofa or lamp will actually look in your room until you get it home. Houzz, which has added more and more shopping features to its app over the last few years, wants to make this easier.

A few months ago, it allowed its users to add to images 2D cutouts of products so you can better predict how they will fit in with the rest of your mid-century modern decor. Today it is launching a basic AR mode that lets you see how a large selection of the roughly 300,000 products for which the company currently has 3D models will look in your space.

As Sally Huang, the company’s lead for visual technologies, told me, 50 percent of Houzz shoppers used the 2D version of this (“View in My Room”) in 2016 and those users spend 3x more time in the app, too. The team, of course, hopes that the 3D version (unsurprisingly called “View in My Room 3D”) will lead to even higher engagement.

As far as AR products go, though, this is pretty basic for the time being. You can move your furniture around in 3D space, resize it to fit your room (which can be a bit of an issue, given that the size of a furniture item is kind of important and not something you can change after the fact), and then take a snapshot of your scene to share with others (including the home remodeling professional also found on Houzz).

This scene doesn’t stay anchored in the room, though. If you move your phone or tablet around, everything else moves, too. So this is essentially just a basic 3D editor with the camera image projected in the background. The team tells me that it’s looking at ways to have the virtual scene stay anchored in the room, but for the time being, that’s not possible.

This new feature is now available on iOS, with Android support coming soon.