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Interior design with digital twins: the future of home furnishing?

Challenge: Creating digital furniture models so realistic they can be used by interior decorators to weigh up decor virtually, achieve the perfect look and feel, and realize their creative visions.

Solution: Artec Leo, Artec Studio, Autodesk 3ds Max

Result: A growing, already thousands-strong catalog, packed with true-to-life digital furniture sets. These allow Rooms To Go customers to visualize interior spaces, ensure furniture fits, and experiment more easily with decor styles before committing to a purchase.

Why Artec 3D?: Leo 3D scans medium-sized objects in minutes while capturing the finest of details, even if they have tricky shiny or fluffy surfaces. Thanks to its unique portability, the completely wireless device can also be taken to photoshoots for on-demand digitization.

Interior design with digital twins

One of the furniture collections Rooms To Go has digitized with Artec 3D scanning. Image courtesy of Rooms To Go

Designing your ideal living space sounds fun, right? Who hasn’t gone through a magazine, picking out decor items and imagining how they could be used to create the ultimate hangout?

With social media spreading design ideas like wildfire, and do-it-yourself hardware easier to access than ever, the prospect of building a ‘dream home’ is also fast becoming a reality.

However, as any DIY fan will tell you, interior design is no walk in the park. Starting with exact measurements is essential to furnishings fitting nicely. Additionally, unlike most forms of retail that can easily be shopped online, furniture items often need to be judged in-person – after all, how else can you properly assess texture, comfort, and style?

Aiming to buck this trend, furniture specialist Rooms To Go has revamped its online presence to digitize decoration for its customers, one beautifully textured Artec Leo scan at a time.

Make room for change

Since it was founded in 1990, Rooms To Go has grown into one of the largest furniture chains in the US, with over 7,500 employees and stores in 137 locations. In large part, this success has been achieved while sticking to a single core principle: marketing entire ‘rooms.’

Consistent with its slogan ‘Buy the piece, save a little. Buy the room, save a lot,’ Rooms To Go continues to focus on selling budget-friendly collections over individual items. In-store, this has often seen it create wide, open displays, so customers can view furniture sets from all angles – an approach it’s now extending to its digital offering.

Interior design with digital twins

A furniture set from the (above) 3D scanned collection. Image courtesy of Rooms To Go

According to Juan Rodriguez, 3D Quality Control Manager of the firm’s 3D visualization team, online images only provide an isometric view, you don’t get any more information. With customers expecting to achieve a certain aesthetic when laying out furniture, he says Rooms To Go has begun 3D modeling its entire range, so they can make better informed design choices.

But doing so has not been without its challenges. The company’s catalog is full of items with traditionally difficult-to-capture dark, shiny, or fur-lined surfaces. Luckily, the 3D Visualization Department chose their digitization device wisely, and Rooms To Go’s site now boasts thousands of stunningly realistic 3D models, captured entirely with Artec Leo.

Next-level interior design

Rooms To Go first saw Leo demoed at an Amazon AWS expo. With a capture accuracy of 0.1mm and speed of up to 35 million pts/s, the unique device quickly impressed the 3D Visualization Department.

Once they’d opted for Leo, the team reached out to Artec Ambassador Digitize Designs, who equipped them with a Leo and provided a full day’s training.

Integrating the industry’s first AI-powered wireless handset into their workflow has since proven seamless. In particular, Rodriguez says Leo’s strong tracking and click-to-scan functionality have made it easy to get to grips with, adding that you can “leave it to do its own thing” settings-wise and still achieve “pretty impressive results.”

Interior design with digital twins

A bedroom furniture collection digitized with Artec 3D scanning. Image courtesy of Rooms To Go

Compared to the photos it previously used for marketing, the firm’s precisely captured, often vibrantly colored 3D models, now bring a fresh sense of perspective to its customers.

“With Leo 3D scanning, we can capture our products knowing that the size and proportions are 100% correct,” said Rodriguez. “There are times when you look at the results and think ‘it's too big or wide.’ Our models give the exact right information on everything from outer dimensions to cushion sizing.”

“Showing clients how their room will look helps them plan where to place things. It may not seem that important, but to the right person, proportions can be critical.”

Photorealistic digital furniture

Early on, one of the main challenges the Rooms To Go team encountered was capturing objects from all angles and replicating the textures of those with dark, glossy, or fuzzy surfaces.

To achieve complete 3D scans, they now turn many items upside down, lifting them onto chairs or boxes to pick up all the hidden areas that light can’t ordinarily reach. On the texture side, meanwhile, the firm has a crew of 3D artists, who apply modifiers to difficult-to-duplicate surfaces with the Autodesk 3ds Max rendering software.

Before models ever reach this stage, they’re captured and processed on Artec Studio. Using the platform’s workflow-automating autopilot, single-click scan fusion, and resolution-boosting HD Mode, it takes the firm less than five minutes to complete each highly detailed scan.

“We want everything that we’re modeling to replicate that photo studio image, so when you’re looking at it, you really don’t know which one is which,” added Rodriguez. “The precision we’re able to obtain from 3D scanning helps our artists abundantly, and makes sure this happens.”

Ultimately, Rodriguez says that previewing interior designs with realistic furniture models yields insights that can cut project lead times in half – making them well worth digitizing.

Interior design with digital twins

A chest of drawers from the (above) 3D scanned collection. Image courtesy of Rooms To Go

‘Just scratching the surface’

Right now, Rooms To Go is focusing on ensuring models look as close to real furniture items as possible, and expanding its database. Already, it has digitized thousands of collections, many of which are seven-to-twelve piece sets. As such, Rodriguez reckons they’ve now passed the 12,000 render, 3,000 model mark, without even breaking things into upholstery or other goods.

That said, the firm’s 3D visualization team has also begun dreaming up new ways of utilizing 3D scanning to digitize and sell products. Initially, they considered capturing rooms and positioning items there virtually, but then scaled things back. Now they’re weighing up expanding their arsenal to take on more ambitious projects.

“We are 1,000% going to continue scanning furniture in the hope of expanding,” added Rooms To Go 3D Visualization Manager Tammy Beach. “Moving forward, we do want to entertain the thought of adding more scanners to what we’re currently using. We’re not there yet, but our hope is to be there sooner rather than later.”

“Our furniture catalog is huge. We’re literally just scratching the surface of what we can do with Artec 3D scanning.”

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