Rug industry is one of the industries that can take major advantages from technology. Nowadays the majority of sales are being done online, and unfortunately when the return rates also go up, as a lot of people who buy rugs don’t really know if that rug fits their place the way they expected or not. It can be because of many factors such as
With Augmented Reality, rug companies can give an amazing tool to their potential clients for trying on the rug in their space, before purchasing it.
AR has always been growing since the beginning. In 2020, it has had the most growth in eCommerce due to the very special condition the whole world is in these years. As the result of not being able to travel a lot, and visit the rug stores very frequently, and for the fact that shipping and returning products take longer times than it could take prior to 2020, AR or Augmented Reality has become a great tool for business owners in rug, and carpet industry to virtualize the experience of having the carpet at home, in the room, in your own space. Instant Virtual Experience (IVE) can instantly bring all these AR features to your rug website.
How does AR work in the rug industry?
Augmented Reality for Rug and Carpet is Easy
Rug is one of the best products for Augmented Reality, as it’s simpler to create a 3D model of a rug, rather than products that have 3 dimensions. A rug is basically an image that turns into a 3D model with no height (h) or Z. AR processors can detect the size of the room, size of the rug, and give you the best experience of trying the rug before actually bringing the physical rug into your space.
The challenge in Augmented Reality (AR) for rug businesses
Although Augmented Reality (AR) for rugs and carpets is not as difficult as it is to perform for other industries, there definitely are some challenges to deal with just like any other technology.
Alignment of rug corners for AR
Rugs are the sort of products that are very difficult to take a high-resolution photo of, from the top of the rug. In majority of the cases, the photos are taken in a perspective structure, and that makes it difficult to instantly bring the photo to Augmented Reality (AR) environment. Photos taken by the rug owners, either a shop owner, designer, or supplier, may need some graphic designing work, retouching, background removal, or alignment, before they are ready for AR. This makes the previous steps to have the rug ready for AR a little bit tricky. But nothing to worry about, as some AR technology providers design their platforms with lots of tools for you to use and minimize the editing steps as much as possible.
Rugs going under the furniture in AR environment
Another challenge in AR for Rug industry is the fact that the AR viewer you use must be able to detect other furniture and place the rug underneath the other furniture if required. Unfortunately this is not all up to the AR viewer. It also depends on the phone, or any other device that you or your website visitor is using. The phone should have depth sensors to be able to detect if there is anything in between your phone and the virtual rug on the ground.
You most likely cannot use 3D scanner for a rug
Not in all cases, but in the majority of cases 3D scanners fail to detect rugs’ very minimal heights. So in the result of the scanning the rug may be a little bit like a box with a bigger height than your rugs’ height.
Needless to mention, since rugs are usually big, 3D scanners may be unable to see the whole rug.
Phone scanners can be a little bit more successful but they may be very time-consuming to scan the rug, process it, crop it, and export to the files you need.
How to prepare a rug for augmented reality (AR)
The process of preparing a rug’s photo for augmented reality (AR)
A summary of the process is:
Photo of Rug → Background Removal → Corners Alignment → 2D to 3D Conversion → Exporting USDZ and GLB → Linking to an AR viewer → Using AR viewer on the website.
Automatic Rug Preparation for AR
There are AR technology providers that use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect all the issues your rug’s photo may have for being able to be inserted into an AR environment.
The issues a rug’s photo may have can be
- Busy background (Very common)
- Corners not being aligned (Very common)
- Incompatible aspect ratio with actual rug (Very common)
- Colors being super dark, or super light
- Having light reflection on some parts
Automatic AR rug preparation systems can detect the majority of these problems and get them fixed. In the ones that give you a platform, you may need to do them one by one for each rug. But in some other ones such as instant virtual experience (IVE), it automatically detects which issue to fix, and fixes that before sending the rug for AR.
Manual Rug Preparation for AR
Here I have a step by step general instructions to create an AR environment for rugs.
- Take a high resolution photo of your rug, preferably with a uni-color background.
- Remove the background of the rug.
- Align the corners using the smart crop tool on photoshop, in order to have a perfect rectangle (/square /circle /oval) of the rug, that feels like the photo is taken from the top.
- Adjust the colors to get the closest combination to the real rug.
- Remove the light reflections from your rug’s photo
- Fix the aspect ratio of the rug to match the actual aspect ratio of the rug.
- Using a 3D modeling application like 3D Max, Autodesk, Maya, etc, give the rug an inch of depth.
- Now you need to export your 3D model as USDZ, and GLB, for iOS and Android AR Experience.
- Link your files to an AR viewer and use the AR viewer on your website.
AR Viewer for Rugs
There are 2 types of AR viewers to use for your rugs’ 3D models
- Web Viewers
- Native Viewer (iOS / Android)
The use of WebAR or AR in web viewers is increasing as AR technology is always growing and the web viewers with latest technology gives you a very similar experience to native view. WebAR or AR in web viewers need no additional mobile app to process. They can be processed via the web browser.
Native viewers need an app to process the AR experience which is specifically created for the device’s OS you are using. Unfortunately when it comes to requiring your potential client to use an app for AR experience with your eCommerce website, the hassle of downloading the app may be too much for them, so they postpone this to a later time.
In my personal opinion, WebAR or AR in web viewers can be much more successful in eCommerce than AR in native viewers.