Colijn IT and Salsita partner to create web-based 3D room planner for the furniture industry
When Colijn IT went looking for a software partner to develop a world-class 3D room planner, most web agencies they contacted felt the project was too difficult. Salsita embraced the challenge and delivered a slick, high-performance solution. The product offers features comparable to competing solutions from much larger teams.
Proactive Approach and Deep Technical Expertise
Colijn IT is a Netherlands-based provider of software solutions to the furniture industry. Their products include the iONE ERP system and a state-of-the-art 3D furniture configurator. Their internal team handles most of their software developmental needs. However, they decided to seek an outside agency to tackle the front-end development of some specialized 3D and augmented reality projects.
They have proven instrumental in rolling out the new product with potentially major impact on our business. - David Colijn, Product Manager at Colijn IT
Among the agencies he contacted, Salsita's proactive approach and deep technical expertise stood out. The first project undertaken by Salsita was an augmented reality proof-of-concept, allowing users to place 3D furniture models into a photograph of a room and visualize them with the correct scale and perspective. In only three weeks, Salsita delivered a working prototype.
A World-Class Room Planner for the Web Browser
A few months later, David was ready to kick off a more ambitious project: a sophisticated 3D room planner. The project was undertaken in collaboration with Habufa, a large Dutch furniture manufacturer. Thanks to their long-standing focus on the furniture industry, Colijn IT had a strong grasp of challenges faced by today's furniture retailers. In particular, retailers struggle in the online age to engage customers and attract them to brick-and-mortar outlets.
Colijn IT turned to Salsita to implement the room planner front-end. The requirements were demanding:
- Run in any modern web browser
- Design a room of any size and shape using simple drag-and-drop
- Add photo-realistic windows and doors
- Change the texture of the floor and walls using built-in patterns or uploaded photos
- Add 3D furniture models, move and rotate them
- Integrate with Colijn IT's backend ERP solution
- Integrate with the iONE product configurator in order to customize real-life furniture in place (change elements, shape, color, material, etc.)
Using Google's popular Angular web framework, Salsita implemented the room planner from the ground up. One unique innovation is the integration of Colijn IT's configurator, allowing users to customize furniture directly inside the 3D room model. The product also benefits from Colijn IT's strength in back-office solutions. Unlike similar products, it interfaces with the retailer's ERP system. Users are thus able to access real-time catalog information and place furniture orders directly from the room planner.
Salsita Director of Engineering Karel Klima elaborated on some of the project's challenges: "Designing the user interface and overall user experience of this project was tough because of all the various types of end users. We needed to make the application feature-packed and precise so that it would be suitable for professional interior decorators, but at the same time the final product had to feel easy to use and game-like so that anyone could use it."
The first release of the product offers an impressive range of powerful features with butter-smooth performance. One particular challenge faced by the team was collision detection, something similar products often get wrong.
Salsita Tech Lead Craig Bishell explained, "The last thing you want is the app telling a customer they can fit a new couch in their living room, only for them to get it home and find out it doesn't fit by a centimetre—and it turns out that is a hard problem to get both accurate and fast. We had to consult quite a few academic articles about advanced collision detection strategies, but I really enjoy that kind of learning as part of my job."
Unlike the others, Salsita embraced the challenge and has proven capable of creating a slick and sophisticated 3D web front-end. - David Colijn
Above all, David appreciated Salsita's proactive approach. At one point, their UX specialists had some ideas about how to improve the usability of the sidebar that lets users add items to the room. Thanks to their input and the work of Colijn IT's own UX team, the product is easy to understand and use, even when applying powerful and complex functionality.
"When we kicked off development of MyRoomPlans a couple of years ago, most of the agencies we contacted didn't want to touch the project. It is very different and far more challenging than your average web app,” said David Colijn. “Unlike the others, Salsita embraced the challenge and has proven capable of creating a slick and sophisticated 3D web front-end. Since the success of the first project, we have expanded the scope of the cooperation. They have proven instrumental in rolling out the new product with potentially major impact on our business."
Colijn IT is actively marketing the product throughout Europe and is currently in discussions with several furniture retail groups and independent retailers.
If you're interested in Product Configurators, read how Salsita helped KILO develop their 3D product configurator: Case Study: Product Configurator for KILO's Designer Furniture.