RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. — By the second quarter of 2018, a tab on HouseTipster.com will offer shoppers an AR shopping experience within the website, no app downloading necessary, it was reported by FurnitureToday.com.
“Our philosophy for the virtual room part is user-friendly: There’s no downloading, no apps. Straight out of the box it’s mobile-friendly,” said Thomas Wolosik, executive brand director of House Tipster, a home improvement website and a virtual designing platform for homeowners and service professionals.
“Downloading, installing on your phone — this is what we don’t want. We want it to work on the website immediately” when shoppers arrive.
Named Marketplace, the tab on HouseTipster.com will offer items labeled for viewing in augmented reality, virtual rooms and 360 views. It will let shoppers virtually place 3D items in any of the website’s virtual rooms, and manipulate and buy the items. One of the items will be the famous Seat Belt Chair sold by Phillips’ Collection.
“We’re going to let vendors use (Marketplace) as a selling platform but enriched with 3D tools and models, (and) product placement within virtual rooms,” Wolosik said, adding that the company’s goal is to produce 200 different virtual rooms a year.
Already launched on the site are 19 virtual kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms that let visitors change fixtures, wall colors, floor finishes, rugs, countertops, furniture fabrics, curtains — nearly everything seen in the space — and view the room from 360 degrees.
“We use our proprietary software and pipeline. We invented everything,” Wolosik said.
Wolosik chose WebGL for the application programming interface because “the progress in language framework development is very fast, so you have to pick the right technology so it’s not obsolete in five years.”
To create the virtual rooms, he said, “We had to make thousands of small components to make those rooms interactive” with every piece shown in all possible finish, texture and color combinations, from every angle, with the corresponding shadow and light.
“It’s like creating an animation movie,” Wolosik said.
The most cost-efficient way to meet the resulting need for hardware and software was to create a rendering farm of hundreds of computers. “The farm consists of 224 CPUs, 8960 cores, more than 10THz aggregated CPU clock speed,” Wolosik said.
Speed and cost prompted House Tipster to invest in its rendering farm, he added. “One image (generated) from a high-end computer will take 45 minutes. This is too long, so we have hundreds of computers connected together in a special way to make the same job in five to 10 seconds.”
Operating in the browser instead of an app presents a constant challenge, Wolosik said.
“Those browser developers, on Google, Safari, they change and update browsers frequently. That also includes mobile systems, iOS, Android, and we have to constantly — like every month — test.
“That’s normal for web development,” he added. “It’s not like you create something and then stop; you have to have your developers on it all the time.”