03 December 2017 Print Companies

Grafenia introduces augmented reality to demonstrate impact of fabric displays

Grafenia has developed an augmented reality app to show what its large format displays will look like in the space allocated.

Grafenia has launched an iPhone app which will will the company hopes speed up the process of buying large format fabric displays.

The BeholdAR app became available on the Apple App store on Friday. Users can use an iPhone or iPad to take measurements of their room and then add Grafenia’s display kits to the room. Currently a dozen digital models are available, but more will be rolled out in the coming weeks and a second version of the app will enable customers to up load their own artwork to view it in virtual position.

The app uses Apple’s ARKit development environment which was introduced to beta users over the summer. At this point, Grafenia's developers signed up and began to test concepts using the tools. Grafenia CEO Peter Gunning says: “When we saw the beta version of Apple’s augmented reality tools in the labs, we couldn’t keep our hands off them.”

The software differs from previous augmented reality applications which have needed users to scan a QR code or a code embedded in an image using the appropriate scanner. With ARKit, the app is launched and begins to work without the need to scan a physical code. Instead it mesares the room and adds virtual representations of physical objects to scale within the space. Ikea was the first to reelase and ARKit enabled app and this is used to allow consumers to place the company’s furniture within their own rooms and offices.

BeholdAR works in the same way, using deckchairs, pop up displays, booths, cocktail tables and other objects that Grafenia can decorate using printed fabrics or boards. The company hired developers more used to creating computer games to design the models for the app. These allow the app user to interact with the object placed in his office or experiential space by changing the point of viewing to create a walk through and around effect.

Says Gunning: “We had been building out the models to help clients with proofing their fabric displays. It’s actually pretty hard for a client to visualise flat panels on, say, a printed cocktail table. It’s much easier for them to see their artwork on a 3D model. And we thought, ‘what if we took this further?'”

The company expects that decisions to go ahead with an order will be easier if end users can see what they are buying in a representation of the intended location. Increasingly this will be offices as studies are showing that decorated walls and offices are more conducive to productive and creative work that blank walls.

The company has designed a 52pp catalogue of ideas for printing on walls, furniture, floors and ceilings to create a more stimulating environment. The brochures turned up just in time for the launch of the app which takes the ideas and allows the send user to apply them to their workspace.

Gunning explains that the Apple technology will automatically and accurately measure the interior space with no need for any tone to supply the figures or spend time with a retractable steel rule. Previously to gain any kind of idea how a design might be applied to the room, someone would need to spend time with a Cad programme to produce an on screen or printed out set of sheets.

Grafenia is continuing to add more models and the effects of fabrics pulled across the frames. It will also let customers apply their own artwork to the models inside the app. Grafenia expects the capability to have a significant impact for its Nettl network. “They will no longer have to carry samples around when talking to their clients. They can show their customers what the finished project will look like while making a visit to the customer offices. It will answer immediate questions and accelerate the decision making process.”

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Augmented Reality app

Augmented Reality app

Grafenia has been quick to see the potential in Apple's ARKit for developing augmented reality applications to help in the print purchasing and specification process. The BeholdAR app shows the large format graphics in a real site setting to make the a purchase decision faster.

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