IKEA’s former head of digital transformation has today launched a startup aiming to revolutionise the use of augmented reality (AR) in retail.

Michael Valdsgaard launched the startup, London Dynamics, during his keynote speech at Retail Without Borders.

Described as “a high-tech immersive commerce solution provider” the startup has developed an AR platform that is intended to “revolutionise” customer interaction with products, which the company believes will drive down the rate of returns while increasing brand loyalty and boosting sales.

This takes the form of a ‘plug-and-play’ solution that can be directly embedded onto websites showing hi-resolution 3D versions of products. This includes support to ‘place’ the 3D objects into customers’ rooms, or ‘try on’ products by visualising them over their face or body.

“We are bringing online shopping back into the physical world by enabling that long awaited augmented reality revolution,” said Michael Valdsgaard in his keynote.

Augmented reality in retail: A revolution waiting to happen?

The ex IKEA VP characterised augmented reality as a powerful solution to the retail sector’s ongoing grapple with the digital revolution, which has seen swathes of store closures as shoppers increasingly move online.

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By GlobalData

“The evidence of massive disruption buffeting retailers in the UK can’t be denied.“The Office of National Statistics reported that as much as 21% of retail sales were made online in December 2019, an increase of six per cent, while over 10 thousand in-store retail jobs were cut in the first weeks of 2020 alone,” he said.

“Lasting change isn’t coming for retail, it’s already here, and AR has similarly arrived to offer a new and powerful way to respond to changing customer demographics and demands.”

Valdsgaard argued that augmented reality was the future of successful retail.

“With London Dynamics, I want retailers and brands to have an accessible, ‘plug and play’ solution for AR; allowing their customers to make better purchase decisions and convert sales by adding a physical experience to online shopping,” he said.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, AR has the potential to entirely overturn the way we look for, buy, and sell things online.”

Read more: 3D body scanning via smartphone brings rapid virtual try-on platform to retailers