If you’re in one of Canada’s bigger centers, you may have
had an Android accessory delivered right to your front door this past week…for
free, no less. The accessory in question? The Ikea catalogue, of course.
It’s no surprise that a lot of companies are starting to
phase out paper catalogues – after all, people just tend to jump online and
find what they’re looking for on company websites. On the other hand, the paper
catalogue is such a traditional part of some retail businesses that it’s hard
to imagine a company scrapping it altogether.
Despite being printed entirely on paper, the new Ikea
catalogue has a multimedia component to it. Just inside the front page are a
list of instructions for getting the Ikea catalogue app, for Android and iOS. Once
you download it onto your device, it asks you where you are, and which language
you’d like to use. It’ll download a full digital version of the catalogue onto
your smartphone. But that’s not the magical part.
While you’re flipping through the paper version of Ikea
catalogue, when you spot a smartphone icon in the upper right-hand corner of
the page, you can unlock extra content by firing up the Ikea Catalogue app, clicking the
Scan button, and pointing your smartphone camera at the page. Sometimes it will
pop up a video with more information on the products. Sometimes you’ll get a
photo gallery with ideas on how to use the products.
On some pages, though, you’ll get a dose of augmented
reality. For example, if you point your camera at pages 172 and 173 of the new
catalogue, a 3D set of tables will be overlaid on top of the image of the
catalogue – tilt your camera down, and the tables will reposition themselves,
all while doing a stacking dance to indicate one of their features
It’s a neat little trick, and it’s actually a trick you
can’t do with the digital version of the catalogue: although most of the rest
of the multimedia features are available in the digital-only version by
clicking an icon on the same pages, the augmented reality portion really does
need the paper version in your camera’s sights to really come alive.
It’s worth noting that for all of the advantages that
digital can have, there’s still something more familiar and comfortable about
curling up with the paper version of the catalogue and browsing…when doing this
digitally it feels more cold and detached.
On the other hand, the digital version of the catalogue lets
you tap on your screen to get more information on the products – they’ll appear
in a pane below, and you can tap on individual items to get more info, and then
you can even tap through to the Ikea website for additional information or to
order the item. Of course, it’s impossible to do that with the paper version.
In a way, the paper version of the Ikea catalogue is a bit
of a Trojan Horse (or, to celebrate the company’s Nordic heritage, perhaps I
should say a “Trojan Reindeer”). It’s landed on our doorsteps just the way it
always has. But by adding in this additional digital “bonus” content, it’s not
only getting people ready for a time when the digital version is the only version that’s out there, it’s
actually giving them a compelling reason to look forward to it.
As for the augmented reality content? That’s just catnip for
the geeks in the audience…whether they know what a lingonberry is or not.