Amazon released augmented reality (AR) capabilities through its iOS app yesterday that allow consumers to place virtual versions of objects in real world settings through their phones. The number of products you can place is currently limited, but there is a Kitchen category where you can preview how virtual wares will look on your countertops or in cabinets.
Right now, the feature is more fun than truly useful in the kitchen (I can see it having more of an immediate impact in the living room). Mostly because a lot of the kitchen items are small, like a Cookie Monster mug which I don’t really need augmented reality to show me how much space I need on my counter.
If you’re looking for some utility, the app might be useful for bigger countertop appliances like toaster ovens or slow cookers to get a sense of how they would fit and look in a smaller kitchen. Or if you want to get a sense of how a style of kitchen barstools would look. Or you can get a sense of how a red toaster will work with the current color scheme of your kitchen.
The virtual mockups are definitely rough, and there really aren’t that many items to preview right now. But right now isn’t really the point. Amazon is a company that definitely does not live in the present, it’s always got one eye on the future and setting itself up for success then.
You can see how this would be helpful with larger appliances such as a refrigerator, or oven hood or cooktop to see how it will look. And the ability to provide real-life room mapping would be of great use, for example showing it a space and Amazon pulling up all the appliances that would fit there, or appliance colors that would go well with your existing decor.
There was one bit of unexpected coolness from my brief AR experiment. When I Airdropped the pictures from my phone to my MacBook, it immediately brought up the corresponding page to buy the product on Amazon in my browser. Well, “coolness” may not be the right word, but never let it be said that Amazon is not the master of the frictionless purchase.
You can check out the AR capabilities right now in iOS. Jut go the Amazon shopping app and click on the camera. From there you can find the best place for that Cookie Monster mug.