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Shack in flat-pack bric-a-brac lack flap? Whack on this 3D flat-pack app

Put down that Allen key, this mobe tool assembles Ikea gear for you (virtually)

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Vid Ikea, champion of the disposable Allen key, is launching an app to show how its self-assembly furniture would look in your home – if you could put it together properly.

The new software, available for Android and iOS gadgets at the end of this month, overlays 3D models of selected flat-packed firewood onto live video of one's own home captured by the device's camera - a technique called augmented reality.

The projected furniture is appropriately scaled and positioned on screen so thrifty homeowners can see exactly how the selected stuff will look in their abode once they have paid someone to come over and actually put it together properly.

Ikea's video below shows how it's supposed to work, ideally:

Only 90 items of furniture will be available in the app at launch, so you'd best choose with care, but it does seem to be a genuinely useful application of augmented reality (AR); something seldom seen.

One in five Chinese smartphone users apparently uses AR, though what for we're not clear, as most of the apps seem to be impressive demonstrations with little practical application.

Flat hunting works, but overlaying jobs onto the landscape smacks of a technology looking for a problem to serve (it's no surprise that Nokia's JobLens, which does just that, was developed in partnership with Silicon Roundabout-based Entrepreneur First).

But seeing if the sofa will fit in the room makes sense, especially given the difficulty of getting Ikea products back into their original packaging if they turn out to be too big.

The app won't be available until August 25, so until then it's back to the tape measure and one's imagination – neither of which is as accurate as it ought to be. ®

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