The furniture industry seemingly avoids new technologies. This myth is disproved by innovative projects such as Intiaro. The tool created by the Poles is used to configure the home furnishings using the augmented reality. The potential of traditional businesses is increasingly recognized by investment funds.
Poland is currently the fourth furniture exporter in the world. It is expected that this year it will overtake the Italians and take over their place on the podium. In the years 2010-2016 the value of Polish exports increased by almost 70%. A good testimony of the industry is how it grows in the global rankings year by year. Only a decade ago Poles closed the top ten of the world’s largest furniture manufacturers, today they are in the sixth place.
On the national scale, in terms of the value of net exports, Polish furniture manufacturers are ranked second, after motor parts and accessories producers. It is estimated that this year the value of the furniture industry will reach the level of PLN 50 billion (USD 13,5 billion). It is also one of the largest employers in Poland. This huge sector consists of about 27 thousand enterprises, employing over 150 thousand people (data for 2016).
Intiaro has proposed the use of augmented reality (AR) for interior design and decoration. AR technology expands the camera’s mobile video experience with additional features in real time. Just run the application in the room you want to decorate. Choose the furniture, its colour, material and functions of selected items. If you choose a specific furniture set, you can also quickly choose more set modules. The next step is to place the virtual elements in the room space visible on the screen of your smartphone or tablet. Creating your own composition is facilitated by the app’s very high accuracy, as it displays furniture in real size. Unlike many AR-based solutions, Intiaro application does not require any other devices or special glasses.
Easy interior „design” – using a simple and functional tool – can reduce a number of furniture returns, but also increase sales, without the need for potential customers to visit the brick-and-mortar store.
Investment of Alfabeat fund
Intiaro is already generating revenues in two different global markets. The authors of the technology have been trusted by Polish producers, such as VOX or Gala Collezione. The company is also systematically developing its relations in the furniture and interior design market in the USA. Intiaro started cooperation with Ethan Allen, one of the largest North America furniture distributors.
Development of Intiaro technology will be further supported by the investment of Alfabeat fund (USD 800 000), which finances projects with the global potential.
Funds from Alfabeat will be used to develop the product as well as to strengthen its technological advantage. The investment will also support the expansion of the Polish solution in the U.S. market.
– We invest in projects with global development potential. Our motto is “We support founders through global alliances”. We believe that global success can be achieved through thinking that goes beyond our own backyard. That is why we focus on international cooperation, which is also expected from our partners– says Bartosz Lipnicki – Managing Partner of Alfabeat.
– We first met the tool’s creators – Paweł Ciach, Dariusz Dudziński, Michał Stachowski – a year ago. We already noticed the potential of Intiaro then, but we felt that the project lacked a full business concept. When, after a year’s work, they returned to us, they were mature in business, with a contract in the United States. We did not hesitate for a moment – adds Lipnicki.
Potential of the AR
Martin Herdina, CEO of Wikitude, described 2018 as the year of augmented reality. He even said that over a decade AR will become as popular as smartphones today. This technology can be used in a wide range of industries, from games to medicine, education and tourism to the defence industry. According to Goldman Sachs estimates, the value of the AR and VR market will rise to USD 95 billion by 2025. According to Digi-Capital forecasts, this level will be reached even a few years earlier – in 2021.