IKEA Immerse

The IKEA Immerse app is available in selected IKEA stores in Germany. This benchmark design application enables consumers to create, experience and share their own configurations in a virtual living and kitchen room set. With its seamless ecommerce integration, a high level of detail and real-time interaction, the spatial computing in VR experience represents an engaging and valuable touchpoint.

A multifunctional use case strategy

The application is a crucial part not only in IKEA’s omnichannel strategy, but also in the digital transformation of its point-of-sales. It is the successor of the 2016 IKEA Virtual Home experience, that has been tried and tested as a prototype application in an IKEA Store in Berlin six days a week for over a year. Based on about 25,000 users, detailed analytics and intensive user studies, we developed the new application iteratively and brought it to market for in-store as well as pop-up, event and home use cases.

Strategically integrated in consumer journey

Not only did we aim to support several touch points, our goal was to deliver rich interaction and a broad range of configuration varieties. Based on this, IKEA Immerse is set up to elevate the brand experience by fostering co-creation and conversion. It is integrated in the consumer journey and core business areas. Customers are enabled to favorite or purchase products on their smartphone. A panorama of their personal room is made available for sharing.

Real-time configuration with immersive storytelling

The extent of freedom that this application offers is unsighted: Hundreds of configurations, options and combinations can be experienced in any daytime situation. This virtual room is never quite the same and invites to play, configure, share and come back again. The IKEA brand experience is elevated by a storytelling concept that makes use of the brand testimonials Jonas and Smilla, guiding users by voiceover during the onboarding as well as throughout the whole experience process.

An agile concept and production pipeline

We aimed to bring this virtual world to life in a real time application with utmost visual and interactive brilliance. Hence, we established an agile team of creative concept, experience designer with focus on story, art and sound - closely collaborating with 3D artists, interactive producers and creative engineering. After an initial phase of analyzing user studies and exploring several interior design benchmarks, we chose an unique technical route: The concept is a hybrid of real-time rendering, specifically adapted models and textures, real-time lights, pre-rendered lightmaps as well custom shaders and visual effects. The intuitive UI and interaction design from the first VR application was redesigned for new interactions and rich contents.

Real-Time and Seamless Technical Framework

An agile kanban workflow ensured fast prototyping, change management in line with IKEA’s product managers and interior designers as well as ongoing quality assurance. The development and 3D modeling pipeline was very complex: Existing 3D data was optimized in an extensive retopology process, thereby minimizing polycount, optimizing meshflows and geometry for the development concept. Test an tried directly in unity and on the store infrastructure, flawless real-time rendering performance was ensured. The post-processing was executed in team art direction and engineering, based on light moodboards, benchmarks and real room personas.

Modular and flexible Setup

Since a lot of concept work, product design and creative engineering has been put into this software, it was build to ensure a multi-store, eventually international roll-out. The aim was to adapt it locally as well as to provide constant renewable version. Sound effects of IKEA products and apartment sounds were recorded on real locations and in an IKEA store - the outside stereoscopic panoramas were even shot as a timelapse over a whole day.

Real-Time and Seamless Technical Framework
On the road towards a Sales Tool

Being established in retail environments as a part of the consumer journey, our Virtual Reality experience will now aim to reach the plateau of productivity. This means providing a sales tool, that inspires consumers, enables them to explore products with their friends and family, to share configurations on social media - and most of all: To shop configured products in-store or online. This too will be a process of learning and refining, thereby creating a new shopping experience.


IKEA Immerse