Gone with a simple swipe.
Image: Russ Maschmeyer

Imagine if you could use the augmented reality features of the iPhone to see how a room would look without furniture. That is the idea behind a new augmented reality prototype shown off by Russ Maschmeyer on the social networking site. Ikea's virtual design tool was put to shame by the demo that he referred to as a "reset button". It is an internal experiment that offers an interesting glimpse at the kinds of experiences that could be possible with Apple's latest augmented reality.

In a video, Maschmeyer shows how the prototype is able to erase a room's contents, so that the iPhone can be used to look at the empty space in augmented reality. Maschmeyer explained that the technology could one day be useful for e-commerce sites, allowing them to show customers how new furniture could look at home without the need for existing furniture.

At this year's World Wide Developers Conference, Apple detailed a tool for developers called RoomPlan. It's designed to let an iPad or iPhone equipped with a LiDAR sensor Scan a room, understand its geometry and furniture, and build a 3D model that app developers can use as they please.

Maschmeyer looked at what Apple's technology was like in practice. The model was put onto the real room.

When I tried out a similar virtual design tool from Ikea, the results were disappointing. Ikea can remove furniture from a room, but only as a 2D image. The prototype from Shopify seems to allow you to look at the room in augmented reality. Ikea doesn't need a LiDAR-equipped iPhone in order to use its approach. It is a piece of technology that people can download and use at home.

I think it's fair to say that we haven't seen a killer app for the technology yet, even though Apple has been showing it off for years. Prototypes like these make me think that there could be interesting uses for the technology in the near future. Apple is rumored to be releasing an augmented reality / virtual reality headset.