Families with kids heading off to  college or university are gearing up now. For many of us,  it’s the first time living away from home. While we map out our shopping checklists for the dorm room  so many questions come into play. How big is the space? How can we make the space stylish, liveable, and efficient? Sometimes it’s hard for parents and kids to visualize the space but thankfully there are apps out there to help so we can make better decisions. Augmented reality has gone beyond the fun factor in games and have now entered into our everyday lives making them very useful tools.

What is augmented reality anyway? You’ve heard of virtual reality where you’re often wearing some big  goggles and find yourself immersed in a game. Augmented Reality (AR) is different. You don’t have to use any special headgear to  visualize what you’re doing. Instead, you just peer through the screen of your mobile device bringing objects and settings to life. Remember the Pokemon Go phenomenon of two years ago (actually it’s still popular) where you could go in the malls, on the sidewalks, public parks, and even museums to “catch” the pokemon through your phone? That was probably the most used AR app to date.

As mentioned, we’re finding AR’s use beyond the games. The technology can be used in various ways to help design the spaces we live in. By the way, I’ve been using an AR app to help plan out  our upcoming bathroom reno. It’s amazing what these apps can do!  From creating floor plans to choosing furniture and decor  everything has become very convenient to visualize on devices particularly on the iPad with iOS11.

Here are a few great apps to explore:

PLNAR uses AR to create 3D room plans and CAD files with just an iPhone. Leave the measuring tape behind. This is perfect for more serious redecorating jobs or to decide if that *perfect* dresser will fit. Available free on App Store.
magicplan allows users to create professional floor plans, get pricing estimates on materials needed and plan DIY projects like sprucing up the apartment walls with paint by knowing how many cans to buy, or creating furniture layouts. Available free on App Store.
IKEA Place is an essential for dorm decor. We all know IKEA is the place for fun and affordable student furniture. IKEA Place lets users virtually ‘place’ IKEA products in their space. Available free on App Store.
Housecraft uses augmented reality to place fully rendered 3D models anywhere in a room. Test out furniture and decor before buying it and bringing it home. Available free on App Store.
Wayfair app lets users plan out everything furniture, decor and design from their iPhone. View the product in the space and then easily order on the go. Available free on App Store.